I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel Jane Eyre is my favourite novel of all time. It’s hard to sum up exactly why I love it in a single post (hence why I’ve never attempted it) but in a nutshell: Jane’s fiery and independent spirit, issues of morality, Jane’s quip about keeping in good health so she won’t go to hell, the romance between Jane and Mr. Rochester, Mr. Rochester in general, THAT twist, the mesh of bildungsroman and gothic, the complexities of St. John Rivers, THAT ending. Phew. I’d have to dedicate an entire series to it. Now is not the time though I’m afraid. What I really enjoy about Charlotte’s narrative is that it still has the power to captivate the reader and spark all kinds of discussions and talking points nearly two centuries after its publication. Now that’s staying power. I also enjoy discovering how people continue to be inspired creatively by Charlotte’s masterpiece. Over the past few years I’ve come across some interesting examples of this including a sci-fi version set in space, a version which casts Mr. Rochester as an aging rockstar, and an outstanding collection of poetry. Have a look at my section, Brontë Inspired Literature, to discover some of these titles.
This week I came across the latest example of Brontë and Jane inspired fiction, and one that has a marvellous twist of its own. The Governess of Thornfield by Charlene DeKalb has just been published and I was delighted to discover it. If there’s one person who knows ALL about all things Jane, it’s Charlene. If you do one thing today then please check out her amazing website, The Eyre Guide (https://eyreguide.com/) which is dedicated to all things Jane. If you do two things today, then please check out this wonderful and unique take on Jane Eyre.
The Governess of Thornfield is a sort of choose your own adventure/path version of the novel in which you can choose to follow Jane’s original path in the novel or deviate from it (be warned – there may well be consequences for this). I don’t really want to say anymore to avoid spoiling this for fans of Jane and Charlotte but if you’ve ever read the novel and wondered “what if?” when reading certain passages, well now you can take that path to find out what happened if things had turned out a little differently. This is where Charlene’s knowledge and talent comes shining through and her own passages embody the spirit of Charlotte’s original text. It’s a really fun and playful way to spend a few hours and I wish my mind worked in such a way that I could be creative about the Brontë juvenilia.
I’m keeping this one short and sweet to avoid spoilers and because potentially I could write quite a few pieces on the various adaptations you can make. I won’t because I want people to discover these for themselves. To wrap up, reader, I loved this. I know you will too so check it out now.
In Loving Memory of Bob the Bichon (2007-2019)
A lover of life, the Brontës, and Haworth who knows that I’m just going to write because I can’t help it.
By Nicola F. a.k.a. The Brontë Babe.
Thanks for reading. I’d love it if you stopped by The Journal of Juvenilia Studies where you can read my essay, “Autobiography, Wish-Fulfilment, and Juvenilia. The ‘Fractured Self’ in Charlotte Brontë’s Paracosmic Counterworld”.
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