Sunday, June 12, 2011

"Jane Eyre's Husband" Review

I just finished reading Jane Eyre's Husband two seconds ago (literally). I started reading this book already given hope by good reviews, but I was in no way prepared for just HOW magnificent it would be...

Unlike other book reviews that I've done in the past, I don't really need to give a synopsis of Jane Eyre's Husband. Most visitors of this blog have read Jane Eyre before, so the only real synopsis you need is that it's a retelling of that story told mostly from Rochester's point of view. I say "mostly" because it does shift to different characters' perspectives, but the plot stays focused on Rochester just as it should be.

Key things I loved:
The different shifts in perspective work to the book's advantage because the reader gets the benefit of becoming more acquainted with other characters from Jane Eyre. For example, I was extremely happy to see Dr. Carter find his way to the forefront of the book during the time period in which Rochester is struggling for life after being injured in the fire.

The book is divided into three parts. The first is Rochester’s life before Jane which gives the full explanation of his marriage to Bertha as well as his mistresses. The second is about his time with Jane that goes hand in hand with Jane Eyre. The third part dwells on the time after their marriage. The division was actually kind of necessary, because without these separate parts the book might have been too overwhelming due to its rather large length. Still, I liked the division because I felt like it gave me the full extent of Rochester’s progression through life.

Tara Bradley mastered the art of preserving the sanctity of the source material while also bringing in a modern edge to the story. I read another Jane Eyre spin-off called Rochester and it dwelled SO much on the sexual aspect of Jane and Rochester’s relationship that it strayed significantly off the path of the source material and ruined it for me. Tara Bradley sticks faithfully to Jane Eyre in all the parts that the original novel has already laid out for us. However, she takes appropriate liberties in parts one and three so that the reader’s imagination is still awakened.

I never got bored. Not once. At all. Almost every book I’ve ever read has at least a tiny dry area where you might be a little tempted to fast forward a few pages. This is the first book where I made it a POINT to read every.single.word. Some areas even I read more than twice because they were so gripping!

Overall, “gripping” is the exact word to use when describing Tara Bradley’s masterpiece. Somehow this author has an amazing gift of translating emotions from a page into the reader’s very heart. I FELT myself witnessing Rochester’s journey as if I was there for myself. I experienced full force the same emotions that he was experiencing, ESPECIALLY in Rochester’s moments of despair. To me, any author can write about love and romance, but it takes true talent to be able to convey the full extent of a breaking heart to a reader. Bradley’s genius exhibits itself to the fullest in Rochester’s angst, not just in his moments of pleasure. That’s what makes Jane Eyre’s Husband the masterpiece that it is. To me, the whole point of Rochester’s personal story is that he’s burdened by misery for most of it until he meets Jane. The reader can’t be touched by the relationship he finds with Jane until they fully understand the hopelessness of his situation without her. Bradley understands this and executes accordingly. I cried countless times while reading this novel. The great thing is that they were tears of joy AND sadness, and not just one or the other.

To all Jane Eyre fans:
I know in just another post I abused eBooks and basically called them the root of all evil, but I’m telling you now that you HAVE to purchase this book. I downloaded the kindle software to my PC and you should too, just for the pleasure of reading Jane Eyre’s Husband.

To Tara Bradley if you’re reading this:
You are an artist! I hope to read more from you. I’m brutally honest and highly critical when it comes to anything having to do with Jane Eyre. It takes a lot to please me, and you absolutely blew me away with your writing.


20 comments:

  1. Great review. I'll have to check this out...

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  2. Very good review. I just finished re-reading Jane Eyre's Husband and as usual, I cried, especially at the end. I think it is safe to say that this book is the definitive version of what really happened to Rochester and specifically what happened once he and Jane got married. No other fan fiction and spin off book has captured the characters from Jane Eyre as well. It also interweaves the themes of spirituality as well as a celebration of sexuality, the way it is meant to be experienced. I hope that this book becomes more popular. It is a joy to read.

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  3. @Rachel: You really should. It is exactly what a "Jane Eyre" lover would dream of.

    @Rapunzel77: This book deserves more popularity. It was beautiful in every way. I too cried at the end as well as in the beginning and middle. This book was absolutely captivating to me.

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  4. Thank you SO much. I'm so glad you liked it, and I AM in the process of trying to get it into print. Thank you for the lovely review!!!

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  5. This sounds intriguing!
    I'm normally very wary of prequels/sequels of classic novels when they are written by someone else. They always seem to "colour" the original work, and not always to the good. A good example is Wide Sargasso Sea (which I admit I've never read). Many people who have read it now think Rochester is a total creep!
    Can I be reassured that this new book won't have a similar effect?

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  6. I have a Nook. I didn't see this book at Barnes and Noble. Is the book not everywhere yet? How do I get a copy of it?

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  7. What's great about this book is that it DOESN'T make Rochester the bad guy the way Wide Sargasso Sea did. I read Wide Sargasso Sea and couldn't stand it because it changed the character of Rochester. Jane Eyre's Husband stays true to the Rochester we see in Jane Eyre, but at the same time gives us a deeper insight into him. For example, Tara Bradley gets into a lot of depth when explaining Rochester's experiences with his mistresses. However, she does so in a way that doesn't taint his character but rather makes us appreciate what he finds in Jane even more. I would definitely suggest you read it. It's a thousand times better than Wide Sargasso Sea, though it does use some of the elements from that book without taking away from what we're given in Jane Eyre.

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  8. @Sharon: The book isn't available to nooks I don't think. The trick is to go to amazon and download the kindle software to your mac or PC and then buy kindle book off of amazon.

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  9. I have read "Wide Sargasso Sea", naturally, back in my days of searching for more about Jane and Rochester. While I hated how they portrayed Bertha and Rochester, I loved the author's vivid and evocative writing. I could feel the tropical breezes and see palm trees and hear the ocean when I read her book. Jean Rhys just had a bit of a chip on her shoulder about Bronte's portrayal of Creoles--forget that Bronte wasn't talking about ALL Creoles, just one of them.

    I will say that while I have tried to faithfully portray Bronte's Rochester (my favorite male literary character), no author can nail it 100%, and any reader who allows a sequel to color her opinion of any original character has perhaps never developed a real appreciation for the real character to begin with. While I wrote my book out of pure love for "Jane Eyre" and for Bronte's characters, it is, after all, the "sincerest form of flattery" and I sure wouldn't want to turn readers off the "real" Rochester!

    Thanks for reading!

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  10. PS: And I do try to pay a little "homage" to "Wide Sargasso Sea" in my book, because after all, her book was there first. Even though I hated what Rhys said, I loved how she said it!

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  11. I agree. Wide Sargasso Sea was rich with imagery. It was very well written and I'm glad that I read it. At the same time, I couldn't help but be a bit protective over Rochester who also serves as my favorite male literary "hero."

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  12. @Tara:

    "..any reader who allows a sequel to color her opinion of any original character has perhaps never developed a real appreciation for the real character to begin with."

    Good point, Tara. But it takes a strong person not to be influenced (even unconsciously). Think how influential our favourite TV and film adaptations can be on our perceptions of literary characters.

    Is your book only available as a Kindle download, because I don't own a Kindle?!!

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  13. Yes, for right now it's just a Kindle download, as that was the only e-book publishing service I was familiar with. (I'm a little computer-challenged at times--luckily I have a wonderful, talented resource person who serves as editor and computer person!) Kindle does have free software that can be downloaded to a number of different areas though, which is how a few people have read it who don't own Kindles.

    I guess I was so strongly influenced by Rochester when I first read the book that none of the adaptations have had any effect on me where he is concerned--except to be a disappointment, because no one seems to nail it quite right. All the adaptations seem to portray one tiny part of Rochester, but never really get the whole man. Of course, my version can't possibly get the whole man either, as Rochester is such a complex character. I tried, but he is very multi-layered!

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  14. @Supergran, if you look at the book's website, you will see a link to Amazon's FREE software downloads, which allow anyone to read a Kindle book on their PC, Mac, iPad, etc. You can have the Kindle experience even without owning a Kindle! The book's website is here:

    https://sites.google.com/site/janeeyreshusband/

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  15. "Jane Eyre's Husband" is now available in paperback!

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  16. YAY!!! I will definitely be purchasing.

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  18. I just finished a few minutes ago to read the book, and by the end, my face was soaked with tears that kept running down, and I ended up actually sobbing. I absolutely loved the book, completely addictive I couldn't put it down. I bought it on wednesday and finished it today (I would have finished it earlier if I didn't have a job lol). Having read Jane Eyre about 3 times, and while I've read lots of fan fictions are very ill written and get the characters wrong, I checked reviews for this one, and I could barely find a negative one. Everybody seemed to like it, and so I bought it for my tablet.

    This story is compelling from the very first page, even from the prologue, the focus on Rochester's feelings every page make it very captivating. I could tell this book did justice to all the characters, and I grew to love Edward Rochester even more than I already did, and Jane too. English is not my first language so Mrs. Bronte's writing is a little difficult for me, but the way this book it's written, a bit more modernized, is far easier to read for me, and it didn't loose the the essence at all. This book fills up the gaps the original story has, some minor, some large that are barely mentioned in the original novel. I enjoyed many characters that have a minor role in the book, but are way more important in this one (ie: Carter, Grace, Céline, etc...) and the impact each one of them had on Rochester at some point in his life.

    I was thrilled and exhausted from all the waves of emotions that I was experiencing reading it, and by the time the book reaches the end of Jane Eyre's original novel (reader, I married him..), my heart was overwhelmed by the beautiful and deep love the characters felt for each other, and Mrs. Bradley makes sure to mention that all the time in many different ways.

    My humble advise, is to anybody who enjoys Jane Eyre and wish there would be more of the story, do not skip this book, it's beautifully written and the character blossom under Mrs. Bradley quill.

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