Monday, January 16, 2012

"Rochester: Consummation" by J.L Niemann Review

Rochester: Consummation begins, of course, where Rochester left off.  For those who haven't a lot of memory of first book, it's the eve of Rochester's wedding to Miss Jane Eyre. Rochester paces, ponders, discusses his upcoming nuptials with his good friend Arthur Eshton, and then he and Jane join hands and walk to the church to be wed.

In my mind, the tension was mounting. I was anticipating, with a certain amount of anxiety and curiosity, how Niemann chose to treat the interrupted wedding and Rochester's resulting demise. However, that never came. It doesn't take long for the reader to realize that Niemann has decided to veer away from the beaten path. In fact, anyone who read the first Rochester has that knowledge in the back of their minds to begin with. But even my own precautions didn't prepare me for what steps Niemann might take.

Jane and Rochester do get married, and they do so peacefully without the least bit of protest from Richard Mason and his solicitor (who are nowhere to be found). The ring is placed on Jane's finger. The vows are said in completion. Edward Rochester does indeed kiss his bride. Strange isn't it? Strange, but surprisingly refreshing and oddly exhilarating because of its originality. Somewhere along the journey, every reader of Jane Eyre stumbles onto the internal question of, "what would have happened if Richard and Briggs hadn't gotten there in time? Or what might have happened if they hadn't gotten there at all?" Personally, my mind could never wrap itself around the idea because, of course, that wasn't how things transpired. Niemann, however, dares to conjecture, and does so rather artfully.

The rest of the story is so filled with various quirks, twists, and turns, that to give you even the smallest synopsis of the plot would be to reveal too much. It's safe to say that liberty was taken, as it was in the first book. Niemann forges her own story of Jane and Rochester that to some may be detrimental and irking and to others may be original and interesting. I personally found it rather intriguing as a whole, but I had a few decisive grievances, the greatest of those being Rochester's use of obscenities which I found both too modern and too unlike the original character. The second is a mere carry over from the first book. The sexual content of the novel was just uncomfortable in the strangest way. In technical terms, there was nothing wrong it. It wasn't too vulgar or discomfiting in its description. My personal problem with it was that it was just very unlike the real characters from the source material. Niemann places a heavy amount of emphasis on the sexual aspect of Jane and Rochester's relationship, especially highlighting the kinetic physical attraction they've had to one another since the moment Rochester slipped his arm around her shoulder the day they first met. It seems, however, like their sexuality constitutes too large of a portion of the relationship. Perhaps I'm saying this because I'm young and virgin and still inexperienced with the physical demands that adult relationships are rumored to have. Yet, the mental connection between Jane and Rochester was lacking to me. The physical is there, of course, and the raw and unbridled emotion is especially moving through Niemann's descriptive language, but I didn't see enough of the intellect of both characters. The wit, sarcasm, and intelligence that draw the two to one another dwindles in Rochester: Consummation.

What I like, however, is the freedom of expression. Rochester's emotions are constantly brimming over, shifting from one extreme to the other, and even Niemann's Jane is a much more outwardly emotional than the one in the original novel. This works to the author's advantage, and this is the area in which Niemann's talent for emotional descriptiveness is allowed to shine and fill Rochester with substance. There are tears, there is screaming, there is action and expression. The emotional intensity of the novel keeps the reader invested in the story. When I finished, I was almost wary with fatigue (in a good way). In an inexplicable way, I felt as if I had witness firsthand each of Rochester's experiences, felt his emotions, and dealt with his internal conflicts. It's a truly tantalizing experience that few authors have the ability to infuse into their writing. Niemann accomplishes that feat, just as she did in Rochester. 

I'm aware that I've been rambling and that this review is very discombobulated, but that's all I really have to say. I hope you will all take the opportunity to read it. As soon as you do, I'd really love to hear your viewpoints! I know that many of you will have some decisive opinions. 


  1. Interesting review! I bought the book. I'll let you know what I think after I've read it.

    And no, it's not because you're young and a virgin. I'm twice your age and haven't been a virgin for a long time, but for me the Jane/Edward relationship is as much and maybe even more about intellectual attraction as it is about physical attraction (which they do have in spades in the original, don't get me wrong...).

  2. Thank you. Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

    Let me know what you think about what (i saw as) the sometimes overbearing sexuality of the novel. I will always be the first to attest to the fact that Jane and Rochester do have a very passionate and beautiful physical connection, but I've always had it in my mind that it exists as almost a natural result of their kinetic mental attraction. When one knows the mind of the other so intimately, it's only natural that they should also have a way of knowing how to embrace the physicality of one another. This book, however, made the sexuality the central point rather than just an excess...

    I have no idea if I worded my thoughts correctly in a way that might make you understand them. Oh well, I tried ha ha.

  3. Exactly! How well you put it! That was my issue with the first book as well (aside from the Jane personality transplant). I remember that the writer once said (on a forum that she saw Edward as a majorly sexual creature and that that was the way she wanted to write about him.

  4. She certainly did make him a sexual creature...Well, I guess we are all, in a sense, sexual creatures. The way in which she proved the point however was just a little too much. And yet, I still ended up liking both of the books despite their blatant lack of faithfulness.