Reviews and bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.
If I am lost, you will find me in medieval England.
You can also find me - and my books - on my blog.
As most people who will choose to pick up this book, I am a fan of Jane Eyre and any other book written by the Bronte sisters. They have a way of clutching my emotions and drawing me into their stories as if they were reality. That being said, I have always wondered a bit about Mr Rochester. He and Jane's attraction for one another has been a bit of a mystery to me, so I thought it would be intriguing to read his point of view.
Mirroring Jane's own journey, this novel begins with Edward as a small child. He is largely ignored by his father, teased by his brother, and left to whatever amusements he can find for himself in Thornfield Hall. It is not until his father sends him away to a tutor that Edward forms any true relationships. Watching Edward's childhood pass by in a series of arrangements that his father makes for him without discussing or explaining them helps the reader see how he became the man he is in Jane Eyre. He is obedient to a fault, and this leads to the events that harden his character.
Rochester as a child deeply feels disappointment and loss in a way that explains why he is so guarded later in life. He is close to few but is a deep thinker, so this book takes us into his mind.
"Why had I so easily assumed there would always be another time, another chance?"
"The future is as uncertain as the weather, knowable only as far as one can see on each day, and therefore just as unpredictable and, just as unkind."
The heartbreak and neglect that he suffers helped me form a greater sympathy for and attachment to the dark, mysterious lover of my precious Jane. His battle to cope with the wife he is tricked into taking on also created greater sympathy for Rochester. While it is easy to read Jane Eyre and wonder at his great deception, in this book we see just how much he had done for poor, mad Bertha.
"Still, she was my wife; I had taken her for better or for worse, though none of us imagines beforehand how bad the worse might be."
I only wish that the revelation of character had continued once Edward and Jane's stories came together. Instead of continuing to be a deeper look at Rochester's thoughts, here the novel becomes a quick retelling of the story that we already know. It is still difficult to see the love growing between Jane and Edward. In fact, one wonders at how cruel this previously thoughtful and sensitive man could be toward the woman he claims to love more than any other.
He has suffered disappointment and disillusionment, but his actions toward Jane still don't seem to fit with the character that Shoemaker has created. The romance is there because we know it is, not because we see it happen.
If the Jane portion of the story seemed a bit rushed and didn't answer all the questions that I had hoped it would, I still greatly enjoyed this story. I feel a closer connection to Rochester having read it, especially through feelings he experiences that are easy to share, such as "I ran from the room, my mind at once full and blank, if such a thing is possible." Yes, it is possible. I feel for you Edward, as I did not before.
I received this novel through the publisher and NetGalley.