I’d like to start by answering a previous question. Many people ask me if it’s necessary to have read Jane Eyre or Wide Sargasso Sea before reading the novels in the Eyre Hall Trilogy, and I always tell them it isn’t necessary.
It’s true that some of the characters in my novels originally appeared in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea. However, many other characters are original to The Eyre Hall Trilogy, never having appeared in Jane Eyre.
Similarly, some of the plot lines are taken from ‘the spaces’ which Charlotte Bronte and Jean Rhys left in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, but most of the suspense and intrigue has been devised by my own overactive imagination.
The original plots and characters in both novels are partly present in my own, but there is enough back story by means of flashbacks and conversations to enable readers to remember or be acquainted with the characters and stories.
Some readers have said they read or reread Jane Eyre after reading All Hallows at Eyre Hall, and I love hearing it, but that’s purely a matter of choice. I personally believe authentic Victorian fiction, with its relatively slow pace, heavy reliance on telling instead of showing, and detailed descriptions, is often hard going for contemporary readers.
You may like to read my post on prequels, sequels, reinterpretations, rewriting and writing back, for more information about how I have combined both Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, making both novels the backstory to The Eyre Hall Trilogy.
Coming back to our original question, is Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall a standalone or part of a trilogy? Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall is both a standalone novel and part of a trilogy.
I hope it will be read by readers who have already read All Hallows at Eyre Hall, but it can also be read without having read the first volume. I actually gave it to several beta readers, who had not read All Hallows, and they told me they considered it as a complete novel on its own.
That said, readers of Twelfth Night who have not read All Hallows may want to read the backstory with more detail and decide to read it afterwards. That’s fine, too, but again, not necessary.
Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall has various plot lines, which start in Chapter I and end in Chapter XXXIII. Some of these events have their origin in All Hallows, others in Jane Eyre, or Wide Sargasso Sea, and others are unique to Twelfth Night. In any case, there is sufficient information for the reader to have a complete reading experience.
Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall is a novel for readers who enjoy historical novels including adventure, mystery, and romance. The novel starts during a storm on the Atlantic Ocean in November, and moves back to Eyre Hall, the country estate where the extended Eyre-Rochester family live, for Christmas. Part of the action will also take us to Victorian London, and finally across the ocean once more to Jamaica. A myriad of diverse characters will entertain the reader with their unique first person accounts of events. There are several unconventional romances, murders, kidnappings, and lots of suspense, right up to the last page!
Some of the characters first appear in Jane Eyre, and others are unique to Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall. I have included the folowing ‘Cast of Characters’ at the beginning of Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, to enhance the reading experience.
Meet the Cast in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall
Characters initially in Jane Eyre:
Jane Eyre, Richard Mason, Leah, Admiral Fitzjames (he was captain in Jane Eyre), Mrs. Diana Fitzjames (who was Miss Diana Rivers in Jane Eyre), Celine and Adele Varens, Mr. Briggs, Dr. Carter, Bertha Mason, and Mr. Rochester.
Characters of my own creation in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall:
John Eyre Rochester, Michael and Susan Kirkpatrick, Annette Mason, ‘young’ Dr. Carter, Captain Carrington, Mr. William Greenwood, Dante Greenwood, Mr. Smythe, Nell Rosset, Jenny Rosset, Phoebe, Simon, Beth, Daisy, Fred, Cook, Joseph, Christy, and Isaac das Junot.
Jane Eyre is no longer a nineteen-year-old, penniless governess. She is a wealthy woman in her early forties, who promotes education and social welfare, writes novels, and manages the Rochester estate. She was married to Mr. Rochester for 21 years and has one son, John Eyre Rochester, although she had several miscarriages and a stillborn daughter. After her husband’s death, Jane was blackmailed into marrying Mr. Mason and abandoned by the man she loved.
Richard Mason was Mr. Rochester’s brother-in-law. His sister, Bertha Mason, was Rochester’s first mad wife.
Annette Mason was born in Thornfield Hall while her mother, Bertha Mason, was married to Edward Rochester and locked in his attic. Her uncle, Richard Mason, took Annette back with him to Jamaica, where she was brought up in a convent, as an orphan, supervised by her uncle. She returned to England to claim her birthright when Mr. Rochester was on his deathbed. She is now living at Eyre Hall as Jane’s ward.
Michael Kirkpatrick used to be Jane’s valet, but he left Eyre Hall and joined the Royal Navy when Jane accepted Mr. Mason’s proposal.
Captain Carrington is Michael’s captain on board the HMS Princess Helena. He was also captain to Admiral Fitzjames, who is married to Jane’s cousin, Diana.
Adele Varens was Mr. Rochester’s ward. Jane Eyre was first employed at Thornfield Hall as her governess. Her mother, Céline Varens, was Mr. Rochester’s mistress in France. Adele is engaged to the widowed poet, Mr. Greenwood. They have been living in Venice for the past year with Mr. Greenwood’s son, Dante. Susan Kirkpatrick, Michael’s sister, has accompanied Adele as her maid and companion.
Mr. Briggs was a solicitor who had been dealing with the Eyre-Rochester family’s affairs, and Mr. Smythe is his new employee.
‘Young’ Dr. Carter is Dr. Carter’s son. He has taken over his father’s practice in the area.
Mrs. Leah is the housekeeper at Eyre Hall. She used to work as a maid at Thornfield Hall before Jane Eyre arrived.
Nell is a ten-year-old girl who is Jane’s companion throughout her illness. Her mother, Jenny Rosset, is a seamstress at Eyre Hall.
Simon, Beth, Daisy, Christy, Fred, Cook and Joseph are also servants at Eyre Hall.
Isaac das Junot is a sin-eater. He is a sinister character who appears when there is a death at Eyre Hall.
I hope readers who have read All Hallows and/or Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall will be interested enough in the extended Eyre-Mason-Rochester family, to want to read Midsummer at Eyre Hall (due in spring 2016), which will end this trilogy, because it will mark the end of an era at Eyre Hall. However, ends also lead to new beginnings, and Midsummer at Eyre Hall will open the door to the start of another stage in this family saga.
Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall is on a Kindle Countdown Deal at a special reduced price 0.99 until the 26th of November. It’s also free to download on KindleUnlimited