Snow Moon at Eyre Hall is the fifth novel in The Eyre Hall Series, the exciting and intriguing sequel to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, including more mystery, drama, action, and romance, set in Victorian England.
In the latest addition to the series, readers will experience births and a christening, deaths, burials and exhumations, prophesies, curses, blessings, and restitution, revenge and betrayal, as well as love and altruism.
Jane’s son, John Eyre Rochester, and Annette Mason, Bertha Mason’s daughter, have married and taken over Eyre Hall and the Rochester Estate, after offering Jane a settlement (in Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall).
Jane, now Mrs Kirkpatrick, and Michael have moved to Cornwall, with Jane’s daughter, Helen, in search of a more peaceful lifestyle.
But they must decide whether to accept Mr de Winter’s offer and take over the running of his impressive home, Manderlay, and accept his son, Max, as their ward, after his father’s imminent death, or remain at cosy Primrose Cottage, where they lived as fugitives (in Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall).
Jane has fallen in love with Manderlay, but Michael suspects Mr de Winter and his magnificent mansion harbour even more devastating secrets than Eyre Hall.
Isaac das Junot, will revisit Michael to remind him of the Blood Moon Prophecy, which the Sin- Eater, revealed in Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, which is reaching its culmination. Jane, Michael and Helen must return to Eyre Hall and decipher the final secret from the attic at Thornfield Hall.
Expect hours of enjoyment, especially lovers of Victorian fiction and historical drama. At the moment it is on special offer at one dollar/euro/pound! Can you resist? And you can read this novel and the entire series free on Kindle Unlimited!
Readers will have a more enhanced reading experience if they read the novels in the following sequence: Resurgam: An Eyre Hall Series Novella Blood Moon at Eyre Hall #1 All Hallows at Eyre Hall #2 Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall #3 Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall #4 Snow Moon at Eyre Hall #5 Midsummer at Eyre Hall #6 to be released in July 2022
What, you’re not sure if you’ll like the series? Why not try Resurgam: Am Eyre Hall Series Novella and prequel to the series, for an international link click here.
Please, Lord, do not let me lose my mind in this dreadful place. Help me preserve my sanity. I must return to Michael and Helen at Eyre Hall. I have been removed to this terrifying house in a fraudulent manner, deprived of my freedom, and caged in an infernal cave like an animal.
I was dragged to this disturbing place and ensnared in a cage twelve nights ago by a group of armed men who barged into Eyre Hall while I was alone. I resisted, but they forced me into a carriage and brought me here in the dead of night. I do not know where I am, except that it is over four hours’ drive from home.
I have been maliciously confined, and even if I managed to escape, I do not know in which direction I should flee. There are thick woods to the north, east and west, and I have no idea what lies to the south, as I have not yet seen that part of the house or grounds. Although I have only been here for a short time, my captivity is already proving unbearable.
My first days were distressing. I was not allowed to wash or wear clean clothes. They said they were waiting for my trunk, but I told them I did not want a trunk, because I wanted to go home, and they brought me a grey flannel dress, which was so long that the skirt dragged along the floor and so coarse that it scraped my skin like sandpaper.
When I asked Mrs Mills, the person who seems to be in charge of us, if I could wash, she laughed and said the showers were only for those who caused trouble. I was given a basin and some cold water; no soap or ointments. My face was dry and my lips were parched, so I asked for the toiletries I was accustomed to using, and that was when I discovered where I was. Mrs Mills laughed again and told me it was not a guesthouse, but an asylum for the mentally insane.
I was shocked when I heard the sinister nature of my abode of horror. Why had I been removed to this mansion of despair? Could it be a nightmare conjured up by my wondering mind? How could I suddenly find myself in this sea of misery and madness?
My first visitor had been a tall, angular man with a sallow face and weary eyes who said his name was Dr Stevens.
“Where is Dr Carter? He is my doctor.”
He made some notes in a worn notebook and sighed. “I am a special doctor for people who have your particular type of malady, madam.”
“Thank you for your visit, Doctor, but I assure you I am not ill. However, I am missing my home and my family.”
He looked up with a brief smile which didn’t reach his eyes. “We can start there to ascertain your health. Who exactly are you missing?”
“Michael, my betrothed, and Helen, my daughter. I miss them terribly.” I used the damp handkerchief in my hands to wipe away fresh tears, but I breathed in deeply and made sure I kept my composure.
He pursed his lips and wrote more words in his notebook. “Fabrications, madam.”
“I don’t understand, Doctor.”
He left his pen on the table beside his notebook and looked at me as if I were a poor beggar who had asked for a morsel to eat.
“The man you mentioned, Michael Kirkpatrick, I believe is a servant who was once in your employ but is now a convict.”
“That is not possible. What has he been convicted of?”
“Theft and assault. Before his departure, he stole belongings from Eyre Hall and he assaulted you.”
“You must be mistaken. Michael and I will be married on Christmas Eve.”
“You are a widow, and you cannot remarry without your son’s consent, madam, and in your present condition, he cannot agree to such madness.”
I realised this doctor would not help me, so I did not argue. When I left this dreadful place, I would speak to John and clear Michael’s name.
“And where is Helen?”
He looked at his notes. “Yes, Helen. She is a servant at Eyre Hall, the same as Michael. They have both conspired to rob you of your reason, and it seems they have succeeded. You have only one son and his name is John Rochester.”
A throbbing at the back of my head spread to my temples and forehead as I tried to make sense of his words. It was a nightmare, and I had to wake up. I flew to the small window and grabbed the iron bars; they seemed real, but this could not be happening. I needed to get out of this terrifying place.
“Dr Stevens, I need to go home.”
“You cannot leave here until you admit that it has all been a fabrication of your feeble mind, Mrs Mason. Michael is a servant who seduced you, robbed and attacked you, and Helen is another servant’s daughter who you have imagined is the stillborn child you lost ten years ago. The sooner you admit it, the earlier you will leave.”
Someone must have given him this false information. I had to find out who was behind this conspiracy. “May I ask you who has informed you of this?”
“Archbishop Templar has always taken an interest in Grimsby Retreat, where you are now staying. Your son has asked him to take care of you and his late father’s estate in his absence until he returns from his visit to America.”
Was it possible that the archbishop had fabricated the lies and convinced these people that I was a madwoman? What was his purpose in confining me and imprisoning Michael? I could not yet fathom the answers to these questions. But it would seem the bishop had become our worst enemy.
“Where is John? When can I see him?”
“In due time, when you are recovered. We will take good care of you, Mrs Mason. Your confusion is understandable. You have lost two husbands in just over a year, your only son left home, your miscarriages and stillborn child have added to your sorrow.” He patted my hand and smiled. “But worry not; we will take good care of you.”
I raised my hands to my hair and felt for my hairpins. I knew Michael was as real as the little silver butterflies with crystal pendants I was wearing. They were his favourite. I stroked the long pin which, being firmly fixed and covered by my dishevelled hair, had not been removed. I imagined that as long as I could feel it, Michael would find me. I smiled demurely at the foolish doctor and thanked him kindly. What else could I do while I prayed Michael and Helen were safe?
The following days merged into endless hours of misery. The house grew colder and gloomier every minute. In the mornings we had breakfast in a large hall where there was a small fire covered by a huge grate, insufficient to heat the chill room. Porridge, gritty brown bread and tea were passed around the long table. I drank the tea but hardly touched the food. Dinner was tasteless and tough, stewed meat and soggy boiled vegetables which did little to encourage my waning appetite.
I was required to spend the mornings in the icy room with the other residents on my floor. There was nothing in the behaviour of these women to suggest that they were any more unstable than I was. They were all well-dressed and reasonably groomed, although they moved with heavy feet and cautious eyes, which I supposed was due to our bleak surroundings and Mrs Mills’ bad temper.
There were six other ladies on my floor. Mrs Pengilly was a quiet, elderly lady who told me she had been admitted by her husband to mend her nerves. She liked to sit by the fireplace with Miss Short, a stout, middle-aged spinster whose father was worried about her habit of reading and eating too much. Miss Fowler was a tall young lady with bulging eyes who spoke in a loud voice with a Scottish accent; she sat alone in a corner reading one of the tattered copies of the Bible from the sparse bookshelves. Mrs Black was a widow who was usually found knitting by the window. She told me her brother brought her here every year in December and January, because she refused to take part in the Christmas celebrations. Miss Craft, a fine-looking and smartly-dressed woman, rarely spoke. She occasionally played the out-of-tune piano in the corner. A young girl called Katy, who refused to eat or speak, drew pencil sketches of angels and demons. I had seen no one else, but I knew there were more prisoners on the other floors, because I heard their cries at night and fits of demoniac laughter echoing from below during the day.
As one monotonous day rolled into another, I began to sink into despair. I felt as if I had been buried alive, unable to eat or sleep, until I realised that these first days had been a holiday. Chaos was about to send Satan on his way to ruin me. I prayed Michael would find me soon, or I would die in this godforsaken inferno.
One morning when I heard Katy crying, I approached her and asked if she would like to talk to me about what ailed her, but she shook her head fiercely. “Be quiet. Don’t tell anyone,” she chanted.
That evening, I heard sobs coming from Katy’s room, which was across the hall from mine. I jumped out of bed and listened behind my door, which was locked on the outside. I heard her feet dragging along the floor. “Not to the shed, please,” she said, and a man’s voice answered, “Be quiet. You know the rules.” I listened to her muffled cries until they ceased. I peered out of my window and waited. Minutes later I heard more cries and saw two figures crossing the garden towards the shed, but it could have been the wind, or wild animals. The noises ceased, and I hoped I had imagined that Katy was in trouble, because there was nothing I could do to help her.
The following morning, when Katy was not sitting at the breakfast table, I asked Mrs Mills if she was unwell.
“Unwell? Not at all. She has been discharged. Her parents took her back home yesterday evening.”
Miss Craft raised her hands and moved her fingers in the air, playing an imaginary piano. “That’s good news,” she said and dropped her hands back to her lap.
“I’ll miss her,” said Miss Pengilly, and Miss Short nodded.
Miss Fowler’s terrified eyes glanced at Mrs Black, who shot up, knocking her chair to the floor. “She didn’t say goodbye. She should have said goodbye. I knitted her a scarf. She was my friend. Friends say goodbye when they leave!”
Mrs Mills made eye contact with each one of us before speaking. “Silence, or I shall call Dr Stewart. He will not be pleased.” She paused, stabbing me with her eyes. “I had not realised you were such a troublemaker, Mrs Mason. You will stay in your room until further notice.”
The following days were short and gloomy, merging into one long night. I watched the motion of the moon glide under the clouds, and I imagined I saw a shadow in the grounds. I whispered Michael’s name and cried bitterly; little did I know that the real inferno was about to begin.
It started with a knock on my door one stormy afternoon some days after Katy’s mysterious disappearance. I had found a worn copy of David Copperfield and took pleasure in stroking its weathered pages, for I had trouble focusing on the words. Bitter tears spilled from my eyes, smearing the ink, as I remembered my conversations with Mr Dickens at Eyre Hall.
“May I intrude, Jane Eyre?”
I jumped out of my chair and turned abruptly, surprised to hear my maiden name in a voice I did not recall. Neither did I recognise the large, overfed body or bulging blue eyes which stared back at me.
“Good afternoon, sir. Are we acquainted?”
“You do not remember me?”
I would not have forgotten his bulging reptilian eyes, which did not blink. “I’m afraid not, but please sit down. It is not often I have company, sir.”
I waved towards a rickety chair by the writing desk and sat down again myself. My visitor nodded and obliged. His corpulent presence and repulsive odour filled the tiny room. I coughed and held my handkerchief to my nose.
“I hope you are comfortable here, Jane Eyre, for that is your name, is it not?”
“I am Mrs Mason at present.” I wanted to tell him that soon I would be Mrs Kirkpatrick, but I remembered the doctor’s words. “My husband died over a year ago.”
“You were once called Mrs Rochester, I believe?”
“Yes, Mr Rochester died over two years ago. Did you know my husband, Mr—?”
“Yes, I met both your husbands, madam. Mr Rochester and Mr Mason both employed my mother’s services at Thornfield Hall. Do you not remember me? My name is Poole, Mr Daniel Poole.”
I looked at him more carefully. His veined cheeks, bushy grey eyebrows and fuzzy beard suggested he was Richard’s age. I tried to imagine what he might have looked like twenty years earlier, but no one came to mind.
“I’m afraid I cannot recall having seen you at Thornfield Hall, Mr Poole.”
“I visited my mother on one occasion. You were the governess at that time.”
“Poole?” Could Grace Poole, Bertha’s drunken keeper, be this man’s mother? I was reminded of a grim, unfriendly woman with a prim cap perched on her large head and a coarse, gloomy face, wearing a brown stuff dress and white apron. Mrs Poole had spent most of her time in a low-ceilinged, oaken chamber on the second storey of Thornfield Hall, where she sat and sewed, and drank port, gin, or whatever spirits were available.
I jumped out of my chair at once. “You are Grace Poole’s son?”
“The very same. I was already employed at Grimsby Retreat, but of course, you wouldn’t remember the likes of me. You were too busy enticing the master of the house, weren’t you?”
“What do you mean?”
“Funny isn’t it, how the wheels of fortune turn unexpectedly? You were a quaint little thing. An ethereal waif, tantalising all the men in sight.”
I trembled in the realisation that he had not come as a friend.
“You wouldn’t have noticed me then, would you? I wasn’t good enough for you, was I? Answer me.” His eyes bulged even more as he leaned towards me.
“I’m afraid I have no recollection of your visit to Thornfield Hall, Mr Poole.”
“Well, it so happens I’m the superintendent at Grimsby Retreat, where you are presently in residence. Your stay here is in my hands. I’ll have you know I’m not a rancorous man at all. I’ll forget how you ignored me and demeaned my mother with your haughty airs, and I am prepared to make your stay here much more pleasant.”
He held out his hand, but I recoiled. “Come, Mrs Mason, don’t be shy. I mean you no harm. Let us take a walk. I want to show you the rest of the retreat.”
I had no choice. I was trapped between a thick wall and a grated window behind me, and a massive man with a repulsive grin before me. He crushed my hand in his fat, sweaty palm.
“Your hand is cold, Jane. Come.” He pulled me towards the door. “You don’t mind if I call you Jane now, do you? I’ll show you to your new rooms. You’ll be much more comfortable there.”
I had to run to keep up with his long strides as he dragged me across the main hall and up a winding staircase to another floor.
“These are the best rooms, reserved for our special guests. I also live here with my wife. Fortunately, Mrs Poole is unwell.” He smiled, revealing uneven grey teeth. “She won’t bother us.”
Despite the blazing flames and well-furnished room, I shivered, as if ice water were trickling down my spine.
“You’re cold. Don’t stand in the doorway, Jane. Come inside. This will be your room from now on. I want you to write a list of the food you like to eat, and the clothes and other personal items you’d like to have.”
“Why?” I whispered.
“Isn’t it obvious? I’ll look after you while you’re here and, in return, you’ll be my mistress.”
I held my breath. “Why?” I repeated, trying to make sense of this bizarre situation.
“Because I want you, and I am in a position to have you.”
“I’d like to return to my room, please.” I tried to sound assertive, but my voice was unsteady.
“There is no going back, I’m afraid. You will stay here and oblige me. You’ll find I’m easy to please.” He took my limp hand and pressed it to his mouth. The room swirled like a tornado, sucking me into its twisting eye.
When I woke up, I was in my new bed and the doctor was taking my pulse. “You must eat, Mrs Mason, or you will make yourself ill. Do you want to be force-fed?”
He showed me a long tube and motioned it towards my mouth. I shook my head energetically.
“Then you must eat everything on the tray before Mr Poole returns. There is nothing else physically wrong with you.”
The food on the tray, cheese, cold meat, and fruit, would have looked appealing in any other place, but my lips felt as if they were glued together. I managed to pull them apart to speak to the doctor.
“Could I see my son or Archbishop Templar, please?”
“No visitors are allowed for the moment.”
“When can I have visitors?”
“Perhaps in the spring, when you’re feeling better.”
I asked for a Bible. I was anxious to re-read the Gospel according to St Matthew in the hope that it would give me the strength to endure Poole’s designs on me as our Lord had suffered on the cross. Why had I been forsaken?
The Bible gave me little comfort. I cried for the wretched treatment I was enduring and wished for a quick death instead of the slow poisoning awaiting me. I remembered Michael’s words. “No one will keep us apart,” he had promised. I closed my eyes and recalled the joyful moments we had experienced a few months earlier.
**** The End of Chapter One ****
Thunder Moon will be priced at $0,99 until 5th November, so grab you copy now!
By the way, did I tell you I’ve gone wide? That means Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall is available at most international retailers find yours by following this link:
Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall is the darkest novel in The Eyre Hall Series, but it also has many exciting, nerve-wracking, and romantic scenes.
Jane and Michael are kidnapped, deprived of their freedom, and forced to escape as outlaws with false identities, for six months.
Fortunately, matters improve in the second half of the novel, although there will be major and surprising changes at Eyre Hall and in the lives of all the main characters.
Readers will witness more lies, betrayal and the revelation of family secrets dating back to the ever-present attic at Thornfield Hall.
Some new, surprising, and engaging characters will appear to become part of the permanent characters in the series. There will be wedding bells, a new and endearing romance, as well as unexpected heartache.
As always, there will be a death, including Mr Isaac das Junot’s unnerving presence and alarming predictions.
Readers who have read the first three novels will not be disappointed in this thrilling, gothic romance and fourth installment to The Eyre Hall Series.
What? You haven’t read Blood Moon, All Hallows and Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall yet?
No worries! I have a fabulous plan for you!
The Eyre Hall Series Volume One, which includes the first three novels plus the novella Resurgam Book #0.5, is available for preorder and will be published on 28th October at a very special price, all four novels in the box set for $2.99!
So there’s no excuse not to binge read them all! Almost 1000 pages of adventure, romance, mystery and gothic thrills set in Victorian England (with a few short trips to colonial Jamaica).
If you have as much fun and angst as I had writing the series, you will be well and truly thrilled to bits! Go on, indulge!
By the way, did I tell you I’ve gone wide? That means Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall is available at most international retailers if you follow this link:
And if you want to preorder Volume One of The Eyre Hall Series, here’s the link:
Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall is the fourth volume of The Eyre Hall Series, which chronicles the lives of the residents of Eyre Hall from the beginning to the height of the Victorian era.
Following the death of her second husband, Richard Mason, Jane is finally engaged to the man she loves. However, her eldest son, John Rochester, will do everything in his power to stop the wedding and take over Eyre Hall and the Rochester Estate, with devastating consequences for Jane.
Romance, mystery and excitement will unfold, based on the lives of the original characters in Jane Eyre, and bringing to life new and intriguing ones, spinning a unique and absorbing narrative, which will move the action from the Yorkshire countryside to Victorian London, and magical Cornwall.
Readers will have a more enhanced reading experience if they read the novels in the following sequence: Resurgam: An Eyre Hall Series Novella (Book 0.5) Blood Moon at Eyre Hall #1 All Hallows at Eyre Hall #2 Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall #3 The Eyre Hall Series Volume I (Books 1-3 plus bonus Novella: Resurgam) Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall #4 Snow Moon at Eyre Hall #5 to be released in 2022 Midsummer at Eyre Hall #6 to be released in 2022
If you haven’t read books 1, 2, and 3, or the Novella Resurgam, from 28th October to 4th November, the box set with these four books will be on a special launch offer of 2.99!
Relive the mystery and magic of Jane Eyre in The Eyre Hall Series
As always if you’d like an ARC, just let me know in the comments.
Helen Burns died in my arms on the night of the eighth of June. I cradled her frail body in Miss Temple’s room at Lowood until our beloved teacher removed her corpse from my embrace in the early hours of the morning.
On that same date, seven years later, I married Edward Rochester. I had often wondered if it was a macabre coincidence that the most devastating event of my childhood and the most joyous event of my adult life were to be celebrated on the same day. I should have felt sad, because if I didn’t, I would be betraying a dear friend’s memory. Yet I should have felt happy, because if I didn’t, I would be tarnishing my wedding day and being a disloyal wife.
Every anniversary had been hard, but this year, following my second miscarriage, it was devastating. Nightmares had been plaguing me for weeks. The latest compelled me to wander around the house and gardens, under the vigilant sliver of waning crescent moon, shining like a fading beacon in the dark sky.
Helen’s vivid image, wearing her plain white nightdress, hands joined in prayer, implored me, “Save all of us, Jane. All of us.”
When I asked, “Who am I to save, Helen?” she repeated her request like a chant, and I fell on the grass and wept.
“What is the matter, Jane?”
Edward was standing before me in his nightshirt, bearing a candle which was no longer needed. Morning had broken beyond the horizon.
“Come inside with me, Jane. You will catch cold.”
I followed him into Eyre Hall. He insisted on asking questions I could not answer. I fell into our bed and closed my eyes, hoping I might sleep, but Edward had other plans.
“Let me warm you, Jane,” he said, covering my shivering body with his. Desire was the last thing on my troubled mind, but I complied because it meant he would cease his interrogations.
The following morning, Edward and Dr Carter stood at the foot of the bed with grim faces.
“Mrs Rochester, you are behaving recklessly. You are still weak after your last miscarriage, yet you refuse to eat, and Mr Rochester tells me he found you sleeping on the lawn, chanting deliriously about saving someone.”
I sighed and closed my eyes, because I couldn’t tell them that I had been speaking to my deceased best friend from school.
“I suggest you take laudanum and rest for five days.”
“What about Sunday’s anniversary dinner? We are expecting guests.”
I didn’t care about the dinner party, but I hated taking the dreaded drops; they made me drowsy and clumsy.
“Your health is more important than a dinner party. Dr Carter and I have decided that you will rest.”
I sat up and forced myself to smile. “I had a nightmare, but I’m feeling better today.”
The doctor shook his head. I turned to Edward. “It won’t happen again. I promise.”
When the doctor left, Edward sat beside me on the bed. “Jane, what is wrong?”
He squeezed my hand and kissed the tips of my fingers. I used my free hand to drink some water, hoping to relieve the swelling in my throat.
“It saddens me that I can no longer make you happy, Jane.”
I returned the glass and covered his hand with mine. “You do, Edward. You make me very happy, but…” I hesitated.
“But what? I must know why my wife is not contented.”
I wished I had an answer that wouldn’t displease him. I couldn’t tell him Helen spoke to me in dreams, or that I despised the shallow life I was leading, or that I missed my two unborn children and felt a miserable failure for losing them.
Edward demanded an answer. “Jane?”
I responded in a way I imagined would be easier to explain and forgive. “I would like more children.”
His jaw tightened. “Well, at least one more child,” I added.
He sighed. “Jane, it may not be part of God’s plan. You should be grateful that John is a healthy boy who will honour our legacy.” He squeezed my hand and searched my troubled eyes. “It does not become you to demand more than your share of happiness, and it makes me feel lacking.”
I had no right to wish for more, especially as I knew the hardships most people had to endure. “I’m sorry, Edward. You are right.” Tears swelled up from my troubled soul. “I have been blessed with a sturdy son and the perfect husband. I should not want for more.”
“You are still upset, but you will recover and realise it was for the better.”
I returned his kiss. I wanted to believe him with all my heart, but when I closed my eyes, I saw Helen in her white chemise, her feet bare, holding out her frail hand and asking me to save all of them, and my heart shattered into a million pieces.
From the Blurb
Relive the mystery and magic of Jane Eyre
Nine years after her marriage to Edward Rochester, Jane has everything she ever wished for. She is married to the man she loves and they have a healthy eight-year-old son. They live in a grand, new house, Eyre Hall, built on the grounds of Thornfield Hall.
Jane has the family she longed for and all the comforts money can buy, and yet she is discontented.
Mrs Rochester is dissatisfied with her opulent lifestyle, and she is tormented by cryptic nightmares in which Helen, her deceased best friend from Lowood Institution for Orphans, begs Jane for help.
When another friend from Lowood, Mary Anne Wilson, appears unexpectedly at Eyre Hall with distressing news, Jane realises she will not recover her peace of mind, fortitude, and passion unless she finds a way to keep the promise she made to Helen when she was a penniless orphan.
Resurgam is a standalone novella (Twelve chapters and 21,000 words), which can be read as a prequel to The Eyre Hall Series. The events narrated take place between 1853 and 1854, eleven years before Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Book One of The Eyre Hall Series.
Chapter Three also takes place at Eyre Hall in July 1865, twenty-two years after Jane Eyre’s marriage to Edward Rochester. As the title suggests, Mr Rochester is signing his last will and testament. In this case, the narrator is Mr Rochester.
He held out his hand. “Good morning, Mr Rochester. I trust you are in good health after your accident.”
“I’m still alive, for now,” I replied.
“And for many years to come, I hope.”
I wondered if he had forgotten I had called him to draft my last will and testament, or if he was more of an idiot than I had imagined.
“I am without patience, Mr Briggs. Be seated and let us get down to business.”
He sat, squinted, and looked around the room. “Is Master John not in attendance?”
“He’s not expected until tomorrow, but his presence is not required.”
Briggs coughed and wriggled in his chair. “Mr Rochester, I respectfully suggest Master John should be present.”
“My wife will be present. Master John is too young to take on any responsibility at Eyre Hall yet.”
“But Mrs Rochester…” He fumbled with his gold-rimmed eyeglasses and stared at me as if I had grown tusks. “She… I mean…The tenants and the leaseholders will not respect her.”
“Mr Briggs, you have forgotten your place, and you have also forgotten that Eyre Hall is so called in memory of my wife’s uncle, Mr John Eyre, a wealthy wine merchant from Madeira and her benefactor, whom I did not have the pleasure of meeting. My wife generously and wisely invested part of her inheritance in the construction of Eyre Hall. It is thanks to her insistence and desire that Eyre Hall was built on the grounds of Thornfield Hall.”
“Yes, I do recall the transaction, sir. In fact, as you may remember, Mr Eyre appointed me to locate his beloved niece. But that is not the issue, sir. Think of the land, the tenants; what will become of them? Need I remind you that Mrs Rochester, whom I greatly admire, is a woman? Therefore, she does not have enough knowledge to manage an estate.”
“Neither did I, as you well know. Mr Cooper takes care of the finances and you see to the legal matters. What else could she need? Or are you planning to abandon her?”
“Of course not. We will naturally assist Mrs Rochester in anything she requires; I am simply worried it could be too much for her.”
“Nothing is too much for Jane Eyre Rochester. She will have everything she deserves. Eyre Hall will belong to Jane for life. The Rochester Estate will remain in her hands until my son, John Rochester, is thirty, if he has a wife and legitimate heir, or as soon thereafter as the events should occur.”
“I must advise you that your son may not—”
“Did I ask you for your opinion, Mr Briggs?”
He shook his head, whispered, “No, sir,” and avoided my fierce gaze by opening his black leather case and extracting the documents.
“Then keep it to yourself unless I ask for it, which I guarantee you, I will not.”
He placed his brass fountain pen beside the documents and waited for my instructions. I had met plenty of pretentious London solicitors like him, making great effort to look important when travelling to the provinces, but I knew him too well to be fooled. He would sell his soul to the devil for the right price.
“It is my wish, and although my body is failing me, I am perfectly sound of mind. Write it all down, now. I do not want to wait another minute, or it may be too late. St Peter is impatient.”
“Sir, you exaggerate.”
“Don’t coddle me. I will not live long enough to lose my mind. Call my wife.”
“At once, sir. And we will need two witnesses, I suggest two trustworthy servants. Mrs Leah and Simon, perhaps?”
“Not Leah; it’s none of her business. She’ll find out soon enough. And Simon is a gossip who can’t even read. The others aren’t much wiser.”
He nodded, pursed his lips, and tapped his fingers on the table. “Who do you suggest, sir?”
“Call the sturdy one with wolf’s eyes and his sister, the glum girl who looks like a nun. Bring them and let us get this over with.”
“You mean Michael and Susan?”
“I’m not interested in their names; just bring them.”
Minutes later, the girl walked in behind her brother and lowered her head as if she would turn to stone if she looked at me, but the brother stood tall, with his hands behind his back, his amber eyes on me. He raised his eyebrows defiantly, wondering why I wanted to speak to him. I rarely spoke to any of the servants, except Simon, who had been my valet for years, but I had heard enough about this bold young man to know he was not an idiot like the rest of them.
“Simon told me you beat a man to an inch of his life because he made unwanted advances to one of our maids at the Rochester Arms. Is that true?”
His brow furrowed. He looked uncomfortable as if he were not proud of what he had done, or perhaps it was not true; Simon tended to exaggerate. Or perhaps he was just surprised by my question. In any case, he should have answered at once. “Well, is it?”
He nodded, pursing his lips. He was not going to volunteer any information, but I was curious, so I asked, “Why?” He clenched his fists in reply, but I was tired of his insolence. “Answer the question.”
“It was one of Mr Raven’s sons, sir. He was drunk, and Beth had not provoked his attentions. I asked him to respect her wishes, and when he ignored my words and Beth’s protests, I made him stop.”
“You made him stop? Old Raven was livid. His son’s vision was impaired for weeks after your battering, not to mention the limp he still sports.”
“I did what I had to do to protect Beth, sir.”
“She’s your sweetheart, is she?”
The fearless youth answered at once. “No, sir. I am not courting.”
“That’s not what Raven told me.”
His sister shot him a sideways glance; she knew her brother contained a beast who could be unleashed if provoked. She was not pretty, but neither was Jane when I met her, and yet she bloomed when she fell in love with me. The girl had intelligent eyes and a quiet strength about her. She was the type that could be taught to warm a man’s bed with fire. I turned back to her brother. “Have you ever had to defend your sister?”
He stood straighter, letting me know he was proud of defending his sister, but then he thought better of his admission, fidgeted, and looked towards the door. He did not want Jane to know, of course; righteous Jane would not like our servants to get involved in pub brawls. Little did she know he got up to a lot more than that.
“Well done. I can’t fault you for looking after your sister,” I said, because a man should defend the women he loves or the women he’s in charge of protecting.
“When I’m gone, you are to look after Mrs Rochester as if she were your sister; nobody is to take what is hers or molest her, do you hear me?”
His brow furrowed, and he nodded. Briggs was right; it was not easy for a woman to be respected in these parts, and Jane would be on her own. John was too youthful, coddled, and inexperienced to be of help, but this stealthy young man who had felt the pang of hunger and the fury of anger, he would do the job.
“John told me you carried him home, all the way from the Arms, after a problem with an unruly client.” He knitted his eyebrows, but his fierce gaze did not falter. “Yes, I found out, although John did not disclose the event.” The boy opened his mouth to speak but closed it again. He was hot-tempered, but not foolish. He knew it was not his place to question the master of the house. “And then you called Dr Carter, and you made sure his mother never found out about it.”
His sister did not know either. Her eyes widened, and she shot her brother a worried look. He glanced her way and then nodded, looking at me directly in the eyes. He was obedient, fearless, and astute, an excellent combination for a loyal servant.
“Look after John, too. Jane trusts you, and she is an excellent judge of character, so I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, despite your audacious behaviour.” He blushed like a debutante and lowered his head in acknowledgement. “Give me your word that I can count on you to protect them.”
“You have my word, sir.”
“And you better keep it, or I’ll come back from hell and curse you till the day you die.”
“I give you my word that no one will harm Mrs Rochester or Master John while I’m employed at Eyre Hall.”
I lifted my cane towards Briggs. I needed to ensure the boy would stay at Eyre Hall for the foreseeable future.
“Tell Cooper to double his salary and secure it for the next ten years.”
Briggs nodded and made a note in his ledger.
The lad looked older and sturdier than John, too young to have many vices, but old enough to go to war. “How old are you?” I asked him.
“Twenty-five next month, sir.”
“You’re old enough to marry. Have you set your eyes on someone?”
“I’m not planning on marrying, sir. Not until my sister finds a position or marries.”
“Jane tells me your sister is apprenticed to the parish schoolteacher. She is a clever girl, and she’s not unpleasant to look at. Do not let her marry below her station. And keep away from Mrs Rossett, both of you. She’s a troublemaker.”
His sister turned to leave. “You wait here,” I said, and her face paled, but I was too sick to carry out what she thought I required. I might have desired her tender flesh once upon a time. She reminded me of the plain, meek Jane I had met twenty-three years ago, but my body was too wasted now. “Stay. You are both to be witnesses of my last will and testament.”
Their eyes widened, but they remained as still as two gate posts.
I turned to Briggs. “And where the devil is Jane?”
She walked in and strode to my side, placing her hand on my shoulder and glancing at the two servants in surprise. “Is everything all right, Edward?”
I squeezed her hand. “It is now that you’re here. Let us begin, Mr Briggs. Read out the testament you have written per my instructions.”
“It is time, Jane. I want everything to be in order as soon as possible.”
“Edward, shouldn’t we discuss—”
“Do not interrupt me.” The footman’s head jerked towards me, and I realised my words had been too harsh. “Because if you do, my darling, I will lose my nerve and my concentration. I am feeling stronger today, but I know this will not last, and I want everything to be in order before I leave. Do you understand, Jane?”
She nodded and sat beside me, covering her mouth with an embroidered handkerchief. I waved my cane at Briggs. “Read it!”
I watched them listen carefully as Briggs read my will and then presented the siblings with his pen so they could sign.
“Jane, find Susan a husband and her brother a wife.” She nodded, and I turned to them again. “Make sure you marry your equal, as I did. The man or woman who matches your wit and intelligence, who will adapt to your way of life and accept you as you are, with all your faults, because our virtues are easy to tolerate.”
The girl looked at her brother, who bowed and spoke. “Yes, sir. Thank you for your advice, sir.”
I didn’t like his tone, but I was in no mood to argue, and they had served their purpose. I waved towards the door. “You may return to your chores.”
The girl said, “Thank you, sir,” curtseyed, and spun towards the door, but her brother had the gall to ignore my words and turn to Jane.
“Mrs Rochester, is there anything you require?” I disliked his insolence, but it pleased me that he would be loyal to Jane over anyone else, including the present master of the house.
When she seemed too upset to reply, he insisted, “Shall I bring some tea to the drawing room?”
She composed herself, smiled and spoke at last. “Thank you, Michael.” It was a lovely smile, one that she had not bestowed on me for months, perhaps even years. She was right not to; I did not deserve her kindness. “I’ll be there shortly,” she added, and he followed his sister out.
“Jane, you are to be strong. John needs you, and you will have to run the estate single-handedly; he is not prepared yet. Mr Cooper is trustworthy. You can depend on him, but as with any employee, he must know you are his employer. He will respect you and answer to you. Have you gone through the books with him as I asked you?”
She nodded and glanced at Briggs. “There are some expenses I don’t understand. The payments to Jamaica, and others to…” she paused. I knew she must have seen the sums I had been sending to the convent in Spanish Town and London.
“You heard me tell Cooper yesterday they were to be discontinued, did you not?”
“Yes, I did, but I would like to know the subject and reason for the transactions.”
“They are old debts and burdens which have been amply paid. You are not required to carry any of them; that is all you need to know.”
The less she knew, the better. There was no point in displeasing her by opening old wounds. The past was dead and gone. I would soon be relegated to her memory, and I did not want her to know all the reasons she should not have loved me. I could at least be a better man in her recollections.
“Jane, you were too good for me. I never deserved you. I should have treasured you more, but I could not change my nature. You have been the love of my life, and if I did not love you more, it was because I was not capable of it, not because you did not deserve it. You are dearer to me than anyone has ever been, including my son. I have been a fortunate man to have had you by my side all these years. I am not proud of all my deeds; unfortunately, they cannot be undone, but I ask for your forgiveness.”
She was not angry or upset by my words, but she did not smile. Her face was calm, as if she had known a storm was coming and was taking refuge in a house on a cliff, watching the raging waves from afar.
“There is nothing to forgive that I have not already forgiven.
“There may be grievances you are not aware of and yet you must forgive them too.”
“Edward, I cannot forgive that which is unknown to me.”
“You would have me die in torment?”
“Of course not; I have nothing to reproach you.”
I wanted to tell her she was wrong; I needed her pardon, but she withheld her absolution. “Edward, I am tired. Simon will take you to your room and serve your dinner.” She dropped a chaste kiss on my forehead and left without waiting for my response. I never expected Jane to be so cruel, not after offering her my sincere repentance.
Why couldn’t she do as I asked and forgive all my sins, including the ones I had not confessed? If she understood I was trying to avoid the heavy burden she would have to carry if I told her everything, she would not deny me her forgiveness.
If you’d like to know more about Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, check out these three posts:
I would never have written The Eyre Hall Series if I had not read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (I was about fourteen the first time I read it). Many of the characters and events in The Eyre Hall Series were inspired by Jane Eyre, however my main inspiration for writing The Eyre Hall Series was Wide Sargasso Sea, the prequel to Jane Eyre, written by Jean Rhys in 1966 (I read WSS, many years after JE, when I was over forty, at the suggestion of my friend and colleague, Anne Gerd Petersen).
Wide Sargasso Sea tells us Bertha Antoinetta Mason’s story from her childhood in Jamaica to her tragic death at Thornfield Hall. It was Ms Rhys’s retelling of ‘the madwoman in the attic’s’ story which inspired my unique character, and one of the protagonists of The Eyre Hall Series: Annette Mason.
Annette is Jane’s antagonist in Blood Moon at Eyre Hall. She is the child who was born in the attic to Bertha Mason, rejected by Edward Rochester, and surreptitiously removed by her uncle, Richard Mason, to a convent in Jamaica.
The Eyre Hall Series would not exist without Annette Mason. Annette was inspired by Jane Eyre (Jane dreams she hears a baby in Jane Eyre, more information below), and created as a tribute to Bertha Antoinette Mason, a wealthy Creole heiress who was used and abused by Edward Rochester in both Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea.(Read my post about The Madwoman in the Attic here).
“But there was no baby in the attic in Jane Eyre,” you may say.
Only Grace Poole, Edward Rochester and Richard Mason knew what was happening, or who was in the attic for ten years, and none of them was a reliable narrator. The baby was not there the day Mr Rochester opened the attic and showed Jane Eyre, the Vicar and the solicitor who was inside, but that doesn’t mean the baby hadn’t been there at some point during the previous years.
There are two scenes in Jane Eyre in which Jane dreams of a baby and hears its cries while sheis sleeping directly under the attic at Thornfield Hall.
Chapter XXI of Jane Eyre, starts like this:
Presentiments are strange things! And so are sympathies; and so are signs; and the three combined make one mystery to which humanity has not yet found the key.
Jane then tells the reader about her dream:
The past week scarcely a night had gone over my couch that had not brought with it a dream of an infant, which I sometimes hushed in my arms, sometimes dandled on my knee, sometimes watched playing with daisies on a lawn, or again, dabbling its hands in running water. It was a wailing child this night, and a laughing one the next: now it nestled close to me, and now it ran from me; but whatever mood the apparition evinced, whatever aspect it wore, it failed not for seven successive nights to meet me the moment I entered the land of slumber.
And in the following paragraph:
It was from companionship with this baby-phantom I had been roused on that moonlit night when I heard the cry; and it was on the afternoon of the day following I was summoned downstairs by a message that someone wanted me in Mrs. Fairfax’s room.
This does not mean there was a baby in the attic. In fact, Jane attributes the dream to her childhood, but then, Jane has no idea what is going on in the attic, does she?
Jane’s dream also means that my imagining of the baby in the attic is not a feverish or absurd delusion. The baby is a result of reading between the lines of Jane Eyre. It is an account of what could have occurred in that attic, where the first Mrs Rochester was held prisoner for ten years, while her husband was away most of the time, galavanting with mistresses in the continent.
When I started writing the Eyre Hall Series in 2013, I had four characters in mind. Three first appeared in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, namely, Jane Eyre, Edward Rochester, and Richard Mason. The fourth belongs to my imagination: Annette Mason.
Annette Mason is meant to be a tribute to her mother, Bertha Antoinetta Mason. Her uncle, Richard Mason, has brought Annette to Eyre Hall for his own devious purposes, but from this author’s point of view, Annette has come to reinstate and vindicate her mother and face her mother’s rival: Jane Eyre Rochester. How will Jane react to Annette’s arrival, twenty-two years after her marriage to Edward Rochester? Well, you’ll have to read The Eyre Hall Series to find out!
Why not start with Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Book One, and see if it’s for you?
Relive the mystery and magic of Jane Eyre in this thrilling Victorian Gothic Romance.
Twenty-one years after her marriage to Edward Rochester, Jane is coping with the imminent death of her bedridden husband, and the revelation of more secrets. A disheartened Jane believes matters cannot get worse until an unexpected visitor brings news of Bertha Mason, the first Mrs Rochester, which add to Jane’s devastation, as the ghosts of Thornfield Hall return to torment her.
From the Blurb
News of Rochester’s ill health reaches Richard Mason in Jamaica. He has unfinished business with Edward Rochester, his deceased sister, Bertha Mason’shusband. Richard returns to the Rochester estate to torment an already distraught Jane with disturbing demands and the revelation of more dark secrets from the attic at Thornfield Hall.
Blood Moon at Eyre Hall is Book One of The Eyre Hall Series. Its multiple narrators explore the evolution of the original characters, and bring to life new and intriguing ones, spinning a unique and absorbing narrative.
The Eyre Hall Trilogy has Become a Series
Blood Moon at Eyre Hall takes place a few months before the original trilogy, between July and October 1865, and leads up to the first chapter of All Hallows at Eyre Hall.
The original first novel, which is now Book Two, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, takes place in October and November 1865 and remains essentially the same as the first edition, with some minor improvements and adjustments.
The original second novel Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, which is now Book Three in the series is also essentially the same as the first edition with some minor improvements.
Both novels, All Hallows and Twelfth Night have been re-edited and will be republished on 22nd of August, Blood Moon at Eyre Hall’s Publication Day. So the first three novels in the series will be available on 22nd of August.
What if you’ve already read the original trilogy?
Readers who have already read the original trilogy have asked me about the new reading order of the series. This is what I suggest:
1- Read Blood Moon at Eyre Hall to get some more back story to All Hallows at Eyre Hall. (Of course you could go straight to Book Four, Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall, to be published in November, but it’s a pity to miss out on Blood Moon, it’s a fabulous book with some revealing insights to the characters and what happens next in the series, and you can get an ARC copy, just ask!)
After reading Blood Moon at Eyre Hall you can either re-read All Hallows and Twelfth Night if you read them a long time ago and feel you need to refresh your memory, or jump straight into Book Four, Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall which will be published in November (ARC copies will be available a month earlier).
Would you like to read an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review?
If you would like to read an ARC of Blood Moon at Eyre Hall in digital format, let me know in the comments and I’ll get in touch, or send me a message on Twitter or Facebook, or follow the link below to sign up for my mailing list.
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