Do you ever have the weirdest inclination to go out of your way and look at things you already have? It's a perplexing question, and if any of you answer "no" then I must automatically assume that I'm going crazy. It's something I have a tendency to do all the time. For example, I still read Jane Eyre 2011 reviews even though I've already seen it. When I'm roaming around Walmart with nothing to do while I wait for my mother's prescription to be filled, I often cruise by Little Dragon's album, Ritual Union, just to see if it's still there (even though I have the whole album on itunes on perpetual replay). Early this Saturday morning, I was perusing Amazon in search of a book that might catch my eye and for some reason I found my fingers typing in Jane Eyre's Husband.
It was a lovely book; and it sparked a lit lover E-tantrum (known as my "Real" Books post) on this blog because at the time it was only available through Kindle software. The author herself stopped by this humble written dwelling to sooth me (us), and a few weeks ago (or maybe months ago) she returned to inform us that it was now available in paperback.
Where was my head when I was reading that comment? I can't really remember. But since the day I broke down and downloaded Kindle software to my computer just to lay my eyes on the book I had always dreamed of, I've read it twice. The first time, I was ecstatic. I wrote a post sporadically sharing what it was that I loved so much about the novel, but since that day not only have I read it again, but I've also developed a more systematic way of writing reviews and sharing my feelings. Fear not, Miss (or Mrs.) Tara Bradley. My opinion has not altered. If anything, it has strengthened. But I feel as if my last review did not do your lovely book justice.
First, I might as well correct myself and share with you the whole title: Jane Eyre's Husband: The Life of Edward Rochester. And that's exactly what this book is; the Rochester equivalent of Jane Eyre itself. Somewhere behind the scenes, an omniscient narrator is writing a biography of the life of Edward Fairfax Rochester that stretches from the very beginnings of his life to beyond the end of it. It is a long book; it took me a week to read (which is a long time for me). But what else would one expect when we're given a full view into the life of such a complex character?
Jane Eyre's Husband preserves every character mentioned in Jane Eyre, including Rochester himself. Why would I include that point? Because in some Jane Eyre adaptations, Rochester is warped into a person that Charlotte Bronte didn't paint him to be. In Wide Sargasso Sea, he's a spoiled and insensitive Englishman with no cultural respect. In Rochester, he's portrayed as slightly sex-crazed. It's good to find an adapted novel that depicts him as the man that (I believe) Charlotte Bronte truly wished him to be. I have a feeling that if that renowned author were alive today, she would read this and smile. The characters that seemed so minuscule in Jane's life (such as Dr. Carter) are developed and turned into major players in Rochester's world. People shadowed by suspicion (Grace Poole/Richard Mason) through Jane's eyes are made into real people with pasts, emotions, and conflicts.
Though told in a written style that is more modern than the source material, the novel preserves the culture of the time period. Bradley included historically accurate details; details that give the reader insight into the social restraints of the era. She takes us back into a time when sex was considered a woman's duty rather than an act of pleasure, when girls didn't experience their monthlies until late in their teens, and when embracing ones sexuality was uncommon. All the themes from the source material are revisited through Rochester's experiences. We see Jane and Rochester's relationship from different viewpoints that give us a better idea and appreciation of a strong and timeless literary love.
Tara Bradley, well done. :)