Do you ever wonder about how the secondary characters in a novel see events unfolding? I do. What was Edward Fairfax Rochester thinking when he proposed to Jane Eyre, knowing all too well that there was a madwoman in his attic?
I know little of my birth, for my mother died long before she could tell me--before I ever heard her voice or gazed at her face--and my father banished the woman who helped deliver me, blaming her for my mother's death. Of course, my father himself had no interest in telling me the least part of it, even if he did remember, which he almost certainly did not. There was no room for sentiment in my father's existence. Although my mother had proved her worth by providing him with two healthy boys, he would still have considered it a waste to lose a good broodmare.—Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker (Grand Central Publishing, 2017, p. 3)
- Setting: Early 1800s, England
- Circumstances: A retelling of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre through Mr. Rochester's eyes. From what I can tell so far, the novel is set up in a similar fashion to the classic: we learn of Rochester's childhood and coming of age, his travels, the story of his first marriage, and how he became guardian for Adele, which ultimately leads him to hire Jane Eyre. From there, this novel and the original mostly overlap.
- Why I want to read the novel: As I mentioned, I enjoy retellings from new perspectives (see, for example, my review of Longbourn, a Pride & Prejudice retelling). I also enjoyed Jean Rhys's Wide Saragossa Sea, which enlarges the story of Bertha, the Jamaican woman Rochester married in his youth. I've read other retellings of Jane Eyre and novels inspired by Jane Eyre (see Jane Steele) including one set in more modern times, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, and liked them all.
- Reviews: I've read mixed reviews, but none of the negative thoughts has turned me off from reading this novel for myself.
- More information: Visit author Sarah Shoemaker's website and watch the following video in which she talks about why she wrote Mr. Rochester.