Sequels, Prequels, Reinterpretations, Rewritings, and Writing Back…

When I am asked what my novel’s about, I reply briefly, “It’s a Victorian Gothic Romance, which takes place around All Hallows, at Eyre Hall, twenty-two years after Jane Eyre married Edward Rochester.” A typical reaction, before reading the novel, is:

“Oh, so it’s a sequel / follow-up / spin-off of the original?”

The answer is easy, “Yes, it is”, but also complex, “it’s much more than that.

Sequel, follow-up, or spin-off, are synonyms, that is they all refer to a work of literature, film, theatre, television, music, or game that continues the story of, or expands upon, an earlier work. Sequels usually portray the same fictional universe; setting, characters, and events, at a later date.

Although All Hallows at Eyre Hall is presented as the ‘Breathtaking Sequel to Jane Eyre’, it is also the sequel of Wide Sargasso Sea, because it is based on both novels. That is to say, I have taken the characters and events in both Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, as my fictional reality, and the basis of my novel. The characters and events portrayed in both novels, come to life, once again, in a fictional blend, in my novel.

Just to remind you, although Wide Sargasso Sea was published in 1966, it is the fictional prequel to Jane Eyre, which tells the story of Bertha, Rochester’s first wife, and infamous ‘madwoman in the attic’.

In this sense, All Hallows at Eyre Hall is a sequel because it does portray a continuation of the original universe. Some of the characters are still present, some have died, and there are some new characters. The pre-existing characters are not exactly the same, because twenty-two years have passed, and fictional characters, as all people, evolve over time. The location is the same, although the specific setting has changed from Thornfield Hall, which was burnt down, to Eyre Hall, the mansion Mrs. Rochester rebuilt with the inheritance she received from her uncle, John Eyre.

Once readers have actually read it, they realize it’s not a typical sequel, and they say:

“Oh, you’ve reinterpreted / rewritten the original story.”
“Oh, you’ve written back to Charlotte Bronte.”

Well, that’s true, too. I’ve (irreverently, according to some), done all three. I am aware that my novel may disappoint some readers who had fallen in love with Edward Rochester, as Jane did. Unfortunately, I simply point out that Jane is in love with Rochester, and she is therefore an unreliable, or at least biased, narrator. On the other hand,  she gives me all the background information I use in my novel to expose Rochester as the villain he always was. This does not mean Jane and Rochester’s love story was a fake. It is one of the greatest literary love stories of all time, but that doesn’t mean they were perfect, or flawless characters.

I have reinterpreted Jane Eyre, based on reading between and closely into the lines Charlotte Bronte wrote. Jean Rhys, a Creole herself, was the first to ‘write back’ to Charlotte Bronte from a postcolonial perspective. Rhys gave voiceless, mad, imprisoned Bertha, the freedom, voice, and life, which Jane Eyre had denied her.

By incorporating Rhys’s thesis into my novel, I am indulging in the same rebellious literary trend. Moreover, I have also added to Rhys’s theories, by incorporating more subplots, which I picked up from spaces I found in the original. I can’t go into greater detail without including spoilers, but I have based my recreation on facts I found in Jane Eyre.

Jane Eyre is is the origin of this magnificent literary creation. It is the reason why Jean Rhys wrote Wide Sargasso Sea, and both Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, are the reason why I wrote All Hallows at Eyre Hall. Looking at the three novels, which form a trilogy in my literary imagination, they are complimentary, although they can stand on their own. Each novel can be read independently, however, as they are all part of the same story, of Jane Eyre’s story, if the three have been read (not necessarily consecutively), the reader will enjoy the experience even more.

So, have I written a sequel to Jane Eyre?

Yes, I have. I’ve written a sequel to both Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, based on a close reading and subsequent reinterpretation of the characters and events portrayed in both novels. I’ve then used my own creative license, to imagine events twenty-two years after Jane’s marriage. My aim has been to reconcile both works of art. Jane and Bertha, both Mrs. Rochesters will come face to face, and over time, as my trilogy progresses, Bertha will be reinstated and the wrongs she suffered will be repaired. How? It’s all in the Eyre Hall Trilogy

About LucciaGray

Writer, blogger, teacher, reader and lover of words wherever they are. Author of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, the breathtaking sequel to Jane Eyre. Luccia lives in sunny Spain, but her heart's in Victorian London.

Posted on November 8, 2014, in Eyre Hall Trilogy and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Technically I suppose it is also fan fiction which can be seen as pejorative or as the ultimate compliment. I’d take these many labels/epithets as compliments for your splendid book, Luccia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Geoff. Yes, I forgot to mention fan fiction. I may go back and add it to the post. I’m aware that I may upset some Rochester fans, one of them has already awarded me the dreaded 1☆ review 😦 but I suppose you can’t please everyone!

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  2. I like your point that Mr R isn’t a flawless character – I never saw him as such. How could he be, when he manipulated Jane and locked his wife in the attic? He wants a new life, feeling that he has been shortchanged in the last. Just because he was taken advantage of by his wife’s family, doesn’t mean he wouldn’t easily do the same to another person. I take your point exactly. Well done for seeing beyond the surface of these characters and digging much deeper. I think this is the beauty of Jane Eyre – the story is so rich, the characters (including the minor characters) could each have a story of their own which would be unique in its own right.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, Jane Eyre is a masterpiece. It’s the origin of so many subsequent romances, not only the numerous sequels. What can I say? I’ve been rereading it all my life!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think you did a better job than PD James’ Death Comes to Pemberley. I like the PBS miniseries but put the book aside after 4-5 chapters.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s a really clever idea to integrate both Jane Eyre The Wide Sargasso Sea. It makes me look forward even more to my own rereading Jane Eyre to see if I can also discover those gaps in the original.
    Re your 1* review – I suppose it’s a mixed blessing being able to link your novel to such a well loved original, certainly raises its profile with readers who have loved Jane Eyre likely to be attracted, but then they may well have their own treasured memories of their original reading and be disappointed to find it different to yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank ypu for commenting:) i never tire of rereading Jane Eyre, as in all novels, there are many spaces to be filled… I agree that my rendering might disappoint. Fortunately I’m 55 and have tough skin!

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