Disclaimer: my commentary (not to be confused with a diatribe) is by in no means a diss upon those authors who have achieved success in their ability to appease the hunger of a ready populace for further forays of their favorite literary characters. I applaud publication success, even though I may not applaud the content.
The Janes of my reading life have left me wanting. Wanting more that is. Having read through Jane Austen and desiring more of Jane Eyre, I have continued to found solace in the many continuations that are currently available.
As we all know, there truly is no satisfying replacement for the original. However, when you crave a Godiva and only Hershey, sometimes you are willing to settle for less when the best is no longer available. In my Search for More Jane (not a book title, but wouldn’t it be a fun one?) I have scoured my GoodReads lists to find plausible reads. I attempted several titles and grew weary in my searches for a true Elizabeth and company. Only JA knew Elizabeth best. Besieged by the plethora of Pride and Prejudice knock-offs, I have turned to other novels of classic inspiration. Jane Eyre is one such hopeful.
I dutifully read Wide Saragossa Sea since it ranked a place on the AP Suggested Reading List. Touted as the prequel to Jane Eyre and hailed as a classic, I braved through the novel ever hopeful it would answer those nagging questions of how Edward Rochester became smitten and taken in by Bertha. The novel turned out to be more of a stand alone than a companion read.
I then chanced upon Death of a Schoolgirl by Joanna Campbell Slan at my local library on the new releases shelf. Seeing it featured Jane Eyre in her married state of Mrs. Rochester I quickly plunked it into by book bag. Overall, I enjoyed this as a weekend read with its premise that Jane’s curiosity and tenacity makes her a rival to Miss Marple in sleuthing skills. A fun read, granted, it offered only a shadow in terms of the depth of Jane.
I then remembered reading a book review about a contemporary version of Jane Eyre. Setting the intrepid ET upon the search, she found Jane by April Linder. I too checked it out. Here is the catalog summary:
Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.
I read it anyway.
No, Jane had not been what I had originally been looking for, and fortunately I found the lost review buried under my get-to-it-someday stack. The Flight of Gemma Hardy, proved a much better replacement crave read and definitely proved the glowing review it received.
Set in Iceland and Scotland in the fifties and sixties, Gemma Hardy’s life parallels that of Jane Eyre’s in travail and hardships. Gemma is a young woman who becomes an au pair for the precocious niece of a Mr.Sinclair, who infrequently visits his Scottish home. Gemma’s journey and subsequent flight adequately pays tribute to that of Jane Eyre’s, yet manages to be a distinctive and well-written plot twist of its own merit. I reluctantly finished Livesey tribute novel, quite satisfied with having found a glimpse of Jane through Gemma. I am looking forward to discovering her other works.
Sometimes the best way to find a continuation of a familiar voice is to discover a new acquaintance.
Conclusion: There is real no “eyrror” in finding replacement reads for Jane; it’s only a matter of discernment.
- Jane Eyre (cynsworkshop.wordpress.com)
- Jane Eyre (integrated4.wordpress.com)
- “The Flight of Gemma Hardy” brings new twists to a beloved old classic (thejkreview.wordpress.com)
- Just Another Gothic Girl (cricketmuse.wordpress.com)
- Does Jane Erye Live on? (gerrileclerc.com)