Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Eyrepril #2: Jane Redux: Re-imaging Jane Eyre for the 21st Century

One of the greatest testaments to Jane Eyre's enduring power is how inspiring authors still find the text almost two hundred years on.  Since Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea was published in the 1960s,  re-imagings of the novel have periodically hit the shelves.  Within the past decade, in the lead up to Bronte's bicentennial, a fair few Jane-inspired works have garnered some public and critical attention.  Here are some of the highlights:

|1| The Illustrated Jane Eyre (2006) by Charlotte Bronte & Dame Darcy (Illustrator): If, like me, you grew up devouring graphic classics, you will love Dame Darcy's The Illustrated Jane Eyre which adds goth kid-inspired illustrations to the original text.  This edition of the novel would be a welcome addition to the bookshelves of new and veteran Bronte readers alike . . . and may be a good jumping off point for reluctant students of Jane.

|2| Jane Slayer  (2010) by Charlotte Bronte & Sherri Browning Erwin: In this monster mash-up, Jane is a demon slayer who spurns the vampire kin who raised her in order to perfect her hellspawn-killing skills.  When Jane takes a governess position at a country estate, she is aghast to learn that her intriguing employer is harboring a dangerous werewolf upstairs.  Will a cadre of creatures that go bump in the night keep Jane from finding true love? 

|3| The Madwoman Upstairs (2016) by Catherine Lowell: This novel isn't directly related to Jane Eyre, per se, but it is Bronte-inspired.  The story's central character, Samantha, is the last remaining Bronte relative, the heiress to a literary fortune.  However, it isn't until she enrolls at Oxford University and gets the help of a (duh) handsome professor that Samantha begins to unravel the mystery of her family's long lost literary treasure trove.  

|4| Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye (2016): In this novel Jane is re-imaged as a serial killer who, while trying to establish a claim on the estate of her deceased relatives falls in love with the property's new master, Mr. Thornfield.  Thornfield himself has some violent secrets of his own.  Can these two crazy kids overcome their own violent histories and find love?-- I don't know because my library hold on this one hasn't come in yet (the struggle is real). 

|5| Reader, I Married Him (2016) by Tacy Chevalier: Finally, Reader I Married Him is a collection of short stories by contemporary female writers inspired by Jane Eyre edited by The Girl With the Pearl Earring author Tracy Chevalier.  Among the authors featured in this collection are Emma Donoghue (Room), Lionel Schriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin), and Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler's Wife).

Have you come across any other Bronte-inspired books lately?  Let me know on Twitter @thelexicondev. 

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