Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘Readers’ Surprising Responses’ #amwriting #Histfic #JaneEyre #May2021

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts, and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

May 5 question – Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect? If so, did it surprise you?

The awesome co-hosts for the May 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, PJ Colando, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine!

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Have my readers’ responses surprised me? Definitely!

I have over a hundred written reviews on Amazon, and over two hundred reviews on Goodreads, which may not seem like a lot, but it never ceases to amaze me. The fact that so many readers, people I don’t know and who may never have heard of me, a relatively little known author, in a vast ocean of millions of books and writers, have been motivated to read my books and taken the trouble to write a review, amazes me.  

I feel encouraged by the good reviews, which fortunately account for the majority, and that used to surprise me when I started publishing, seven years ago, in 2014, because I was very insecure!

I used to feel upset when I got a negative review, again, because I was very insecure, but now I’m less insecure and I appreciate them too, because some are useful, and at least they all count as reviews!

At first, I was surprised that so many readers disliked my novel because they thought I had treated Mr Rochester too harshly. In my defense, I’d say I didn’t lock him in a windowless attic, or make him suffer any physical torture! He lived a good life, with his wife and son, even though he went back to some of his old ways. 

I mean, locking your wife in an attic in dire conditions, hidden from everyone (in spite of being a moneyed heiress), and pretending you’re single to the point of intending bigamy (until your wedding was interrupted at the altar) with an innocent nineteen-year-old, is pretty objectionable behaviour, even for 19th century standards.    

On the other hand, I can appreciate the fact that Mr Rochester has been an icon of passionate love, aka the brooding Byronic hero/lover, who is brought to his feet due to the love of a ‘good’ woman, for almost 200 years, but that’s due to an erroneous interpretation of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Jane Eyre is the protagonist the reader should root for, not Rochester. Jane is the independent, resourceful and single-minded nineteen-year-old woman who stood up to a manipulative rake and won him over on her terms, with her money (Spoiler alert: at the end of the novel she becomes an heiress herself), once he was a widower, and once she had made her way in the world working and living on her own, a feat not all women achieve, even nowadays.  

I’d love to continue to be surprised by my readers, and I hope to surprise them too with more novels. I started by writing The Eyre Hall which will become The Eyre Hall Series shortly, as two new novels, Blood Moon at Eyre Hall and Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall are coming soon! 

Take a look at my provisional banner, I’m still making changes and adapting the covers. Do you like them? 

If you’d like to read or reread Jane Eyre, I’m posting one chapter a week, every Friday, in flash fiction, directly from the original novel, for readers who prefer to read an abridged version, here, just click on the banner below:

Extract from ‘Blood Moon at Eyre Hall’ #amediting #amwriting

Writing the first draft of the fourth novel, which is the prequel to the Eyre Hall Trilogy, my sequel to Jane Eyre, was challenging but fun. The exploration of the characters’ backstories and the gradual unveiling of the plot was thrilling. But editing is another story.

I am currently grinding my teeth and pulling out my hair, because I’m sending my editor the second and final edit on Monday. 

Why does self-editing get more difficult with every novel I write? Answers in the comments, please! 

Meanwhile, I’m taking a brief break to post a short extract from Chapter 12 of Blood Moon at Eyre Hall. Narrated by Michael, Mrs Rochester’s valet.

“My husband’s first wife, was a very unfortunate woman. It pains me to remember her.”

Mrs Rochester turned to me. “You look surprised, Michael. So was I when I met her, just once.”

Her eyes followed the tumbling flight of the chestnut leaves blowing across the lawn. “The leaves remind me of some lines from Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind, ‘If I were a dead leaf, Or a swift cloud to fly with thee, Uncontrollable in my wanderings, Oh, lift me like a wave, a leaf, a cloud!’”

She sighed and closed her eyes. “’I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!’ Or words to that effect.”

I had read her copy of ‘Prometheus Unbound’ many times. “The last line reads something like, ‘When winter passes, can spring be far behind?’”

Her face bloomed like a summer rose. “Indeed, Michael; the calm after the storm, the annual rebirth of life. Perhaps spring will bring new hope.”

Release date, 24th May 2021

Characters in Jane Eyre and The Eyre Hall Trilogy #Histfic #amwriting

Meet the characters in All Hallows at Eyre Hall

All Hallows at Eyre Hall has seven main characters, Jane Eyre Rochester, Edward Rochester, Richard Mason, Annette Mason, Michael Kirkpatrick, John Rochester and Adele Varens, although there are about thirty-eight other secondary characters, 16 created by Charlotte Bronte, which appeared in Jane Eyre, and 16 characters which are unique to The Eyre Hall Trilogy.

I just love this image, sandwiched between Thomas Hardy and Elizabeth Gaskell. You can’t get more Victorian than that!

 

Characters mentioned in Jane Eyre and All Hallows at Eyre Hall:

Edward Rochester, Jane Eyre, Richard Mason, Leah, Adele Varens, Bertha Mason, Dr. Carter, Mr Briggs, Mrs. Diana Rivers, Mary Rivers, St John Rivers, Captain Fitzjames, Mr Wharton, Mrs Alice Fairfax, Mr Fairfax, Mr Woods.

Note: Jane’s Aunt Reed and cousins Georgina and John are briefly mentioned, but they do not appear in All Hallows (her Aunt and John died in Jane Eyre).

In any case, none of the original characters are exactly the same as they were in Jane Eyre, twenty-two years have passed, so their lives have changed and their characters have developed over time and they been recreated in my own imagination.

The following table will help you see this transition from Jane Eyre to All Hallows at Eyre Hall. 

Character In Jane Eyre In All Hallows at Eyre Hall
Edward Rochester He was the master of Thornfield Hall and the Rochester Estate. He was about forty years old and claimed to be a bachelor with no children. He’s about 65 and on his death bed. He’s still the master of the Rochester Estate and also of Eyre Hall. He claims to have only one son, John Rochester.
Jane Eyre She was a 19 year-old governess, who married her employer, Mr Rochester. She’s 42 and becomes a widow during the novel. She is a novelist and philanthropist, who is concerned with the well-being of young orphans and the education of children.
Richard Mason An English landowner who lived in the British colony of Jamaica. He was Bertha Mason’s brother (step-brother according to Wide Sargasso Sea) and he interrupted Jane and Rochester’s wedding, exposing him as a bigamist. He still lives in Jamaica, but he has squandered his family fortune and has returned to blackmail Jane, after Rochester’s death. He knows more of Rochester’s secrets, which are still unknown to Jane.
Adele Varens Mr Rochester’s 10-year-old ward, who was born and brought up in France. She was most probably Rochester’s illegitimate daughter, and her surname is Varens, like her mother, a French opera singer, who was Rochester’s mistress. She is a 32 year-old spinster, who is still living with Mr Rochester and Jane, searching for the love of her life and looking forward to meeting her mother who is living in Italy, before she dies.
Leah She was a young servant when Jane Eyre arrived at Thornfield. Mrs. Leah is the housekeeper at Eyre Hall. She is a spinster who is about Jane’s age.
Bertha Antionette Mason Mrs Rochester. She was Mr Rochester’s first wife, whom he locked in their attic claiming she was insane. She allegedly burnt Thornfield and jumped from the battlements to her death. She is mentioned as Annette Mason’s mother, whom she gave birth to while she was in the attic.
Dr Carter He was Mr Rochester’s private physician. He is still the Rochester family doctor, who currently  resides at Ferndean, Mr Rochester’s manor house. He is about Mr Rochester’s age. He has one son who is studying medicine.
Mr Briggs He was a London solicitor who interrupted Jane and Rochester’s first marriage attempt, at Richard Mason’s instance, and later informed Jane that her uncle had died and she had inherited his fortune. He is a solicitor who works in London and is employed frequently by Mr Rochester.
Miss Diana Rivers Jane’s cousin, whom she met by chance after leaving Thornfield. Diana and her siblings take Jane in when Jane is homeless and penniless after leaving Mr Rochester on finding out he was married. She marries Captain Fitzjames. She is Mary and St John’s sister. Mrs Fitzjames. She is married to Admiral Fitzjames. She employed Michael’s mother as a seamstress and took the orphaned Michael and Susan for holidays at her house. Jane met Michael and Susan on a visit to Diana’s home at Christmas. They have no children.
Miss Mary Rivers Jane’s cousin, whom she meets by chance and takes her in at Morton, when Jane is homeless and penniless after leaving Mr Rochester on finding out he was married. She marries clergyman, Mr Wharton. She is Diana and St John’s sister. Mrs. Wharton is a clergyman’s wife. They have moved to Wales, where he has found a good position. They visit Jane once a year, usually at Christmas. They are childless.
St John Rivers Mary and Diana’s brother. He is a clergyman. He proposes to Jane, but she rejects him. He leaves for the colonies in India as a missionary and never returns to England. He is only mentioned, but he has not returned to England and is still in India.
Mrs Fairfax Mr Rochester’s housekeeper whose husband was related to his mother, née Fairfax. She is only mentioned.
Mr Fairax He was a clergyman who was related to Mr Rochester’s mother, whose surname was Fairfax, thus Mr Rochester’s middle name was Fairfax. He is only mentioned, but a letter written by Mr Rochester to Mr Fairfax, shortly after his marriage to Bertha Mason, is an important document in All Hallows.
Mr Woods He was the local clergyman at the church on the Rochester Estate. He married Jane and Rochester. He is very elderly now, but he is still clergyman on the Rochester Estate church.
Captain Fitzjames He is briefly mentioned as Jane’s cousin, Diana’s, husband. He is now retired Admiral Fitzjames. Michael and Susan’s father died while on a mission on his frigate.
Mr Wharton He is briefly mentioned as a Clergyman who married Jane’s cousin Mary Rivers. He is briefly mentioned in All Hallows.

Characters which are unique to All Hallows at Eyre Hall:

John Eyre Rochester, Michael Kirkpatrick, Susan Kirkpatrick, Annette Mason, Bishop Templar, Mr. Greenwood, Jenny Rosset, Nell Rosset, Thomas Rosset, Simon, Beth, Christy, Mr Raven, Mr Cooper, Mr Tempest, and The Sin Eater, Isac das Junot.

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Annette Mason. She was born in Thornfield Hall. Mr Rochester denies being the father, although he was married to Bertha Mason, who was locked in the attic, when Annette was born, so, if he is not lying, her father’s identity is, as yet, unknown.

Her uncle, Richard Mason, who had taken her with him to Jamaica, as a baby, brought her back to England to claim her birthright when Mr. Rochester was dying.

John Rochester. He is Jane and Rochester’s son. He is 21. He is studying Law at Oxford and he is engaged to Elizabeth Harwood, the daughter of a London Judge. Elizabeth is mentioned, but she does not appear in the novel as she is ill throughout the novel.

Michael Kirkpatrick. He is Jane’s faithful valet, who has been employed at Eyre Hall since he was fifteen, nine years ago. Jane met him at her cousin, Diane’s home and offered him and his sister, Susan, a job at Eyre Hall.

Susan Kirkpatrick,is Michael’s younger sister. She started working as a maid and is now teaching at the Sunday and Parish school, although she still lives at Eyre Hall.

Jenny Rosset claims to be s a widow with two young children, Nell and Thomas. She is about Jane’s age and she works at the George Inn occasionally and sometimes she works as a prostitute for wealthy clients. She knows some secrets about both Thronfield and Eyre Hall.

Mr. Greenwood is a widowed London poet who has been courting Adele. They have been exchanging letters for months and he has been invited to stay at Eyre Hall and meet Adele and her family. He has offered to marry Adele and accompany her to Venice to be reunited with her mother Celine Varens.

Simon is a clumsy servant at Eyre Hall. He is Mr Rochester’s valet.

Beth and Christy are two maids who work at Eyre Hall.

Mr Raven is the owner of the Rochester Arms, the only pub on the Rochester estate. The Sin Eater, Isac das Junot, is a mysterious, supernatural character who appears in every book of the trilogy when someone has died. He makes prophesies and scares the life out of most people who cross his path.

Mr Cooper is Mr Rochester’s accountant and Mr Tempest is the Undertaker.

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If you would like to know more about The Eyre Hall Trilogy, follow this link.

If you would like to know more about Jane Eyre, follow this link.

Would you like to know anything else about any of these characters?

For those of you who have read All Hallows at Eyre Hall, which is your favourite character, and why?

 

Last call for #KindleDeals ‘All Hallows at Eyre Hall’ #Free #AmazonBestseller #HistFic

Hi again! Sorry if I seem persistent, but this will be my last post reminding you that my novel, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, the sequel to Jane Eyre, and Book 1 of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, is free today, for the last day.

So, if you were thinking of purchasing it, hurry because  today is your last chance! Follow this link!

And here’s a less-than-one-minute video I uploaded on my Facebook Author page in which I tell you about the Trilogy and this promotion.

I’d also like to thank those of you who have already downloaded your free copy, because thanks to you, All Hallows at Eyre Hall has reached third position on Amazon’s Best Sellers for Historical Thrillers in the USA.

It has also reached second position on Amazon UK for the Victorian, Historical Romance category of free books, so I’m naturally thrilled.

In Spain it’s number one in Romance in English, right next to Jane Eyre, which is a real treat for my eyes!

I’m also thrilled that it’s in third position in Canada in Victorian Historical Romance, which is a wonderful discovery. I was in Montreal, some years ago and loved the city, but I have no friends there at all, so it’s a lovely surprise to know I have readers in Canada!

So, it’s been a really great promotion as far as visibility and publicity goes. Fingers crossed buyers will also be readers and hopefully reviewers!

It’s not easy being an Independent author, there’s a lot of work to be done which has nothing to do with creative writing, such as formatting,  promotion and marketing, but it’s also empowering to make your own decisions and control the process from writing the novel to reaching the readers’ kindles and hopefully minds!

If you’ve read it or are in the process of doing so, I’d love to know about your experience as a reader of All Hallows at Eyre Hall. 

And if you’d like to know more about the Eyre Hall Trilogy follow this link!

#HappyHalloween #FullMoon

I hope you’re all having a Happy Halloween, in spite of the restrictions in most parts of the world. There’s a 10pm curfew in Spain, where I live, so no partying this year.

In fact I’m staying at my mum’s house in a tiny village in the mountians of Cantabria, in the north of Spain, so it is very quiet here. It’s definitely a very different Halloween to the boistrous ones I’ve usually had at school and with my grandchildren.

English Teachers with a cauldron, preparing for their act! A few years ago!

But, on the other hand, there’s a full moon, and I have a spectacular view from my window!

I’ll have to wait until I get home, in a few days, to review my monthly goals and plan ahead, as I do on most full moons.

It’s also a special day for me as it’s the title of my first novel and the first book in the Eyre Hall Trilogy, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, which owes its name to the fact that the action takes place on and around Halloween.

That’s why I usually have book promotions around this time, and as I’m an independent author, which means I’m a one-woman show, I do all the marketing myself, which is fun and empowering, but also exhausting and nerve racking!

I’ve done my first ever free promotion this year and I have no idea how it’s going to work out, but I’ll let you know next week.

By the way, in case you didn’t know, all the passion, suspense, secrets, betrayals, villains, and romance, in Book One of The Eyre Hall TrilogyAll Hallows at Eyre Hall, will be free for the first time on Kindle Deals, for five days only, to coincide with the Halloween Weekend, from 29th October to the 2nd November, 2020. So if you haven’t done so already, download your free copy now!

The most Spine-chilling character in The Eyre Hall Trilogy: The Sin-Eater #Halloween

The Eyre Hall Trilogy is a Victorian, Gothic Romance, and the three-part sequel to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.

The first novel in the series, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, is set on and around Halloween, 1865, in a mysterious, gothic mansion in Yorkshire. There are quite a few villains in The Eyre Hall Trilogy, but there is one enigmatic and ghostly character called Isac das Junot, The Sin-Eater.

Isac das Junot is a character of my own creation who appears at least once, making chilling interventions, in all the novels in the trilogy, but I did not invent the existence of sin-eaters.

Sin-eaters were real people who were summoned to the bedside of a dead person. This figure is thought to be of ancient, pre-Christian origin, although we know they were popular in Victorian times, especially in rural areas.

Sin-eaters were summoned to a dead person’s bedside by his family. They placed a tankard of ale containing a coin and some food, on the corpse’s body, which the Sin-eater ate and drank, symbolically taking with him the sins of the deceased, who was thus enabled to continue his journey to afterlife in a sinless manner.

Most Sin-eaters were poor people or homeless beggars, and although they were officially frowned upon by the Church, this macabre tradition was carried out in different parts of the British Isles, including Yorkshire and Wales, until mid-19th century. One of the last reported sin-eaters  was reported to have died in Shropshire, in 1906. More about sin-eaters here  and here.

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The following is an extract of the Sin-Eater’s arrival at Eyre Hall in Chapter XXVI of All Hallows at Eyre Hall.

Susan, one of the house staff, is narrating the episode.

As I returned into the hall, the heavy front door screeched eerily and a gush of chilled fog came flowing into the hallway. A pounding thump resounded and suddenly out of the dense cloud emerged a faint, dark shadow, which gradually solidified into a human shape, while a breath of frosty wind poured in and enwrapped those of us who were standing in the hallway.

“Mr. Rochester has sent for me.”

His grating voice echoed the words ominously. I heard frightful cries around me. Some of the guests ran into the adjacent rooms, swearing they had heard him say the words three times. Others said he was death, who had come to visit the just dead, and if anyone looked at his eyes they would be taken, too.

Within seconds everyone disappeared. I stood alone with him. His glazed eyes stared at the only person who had remained. Nailed to the ground, my back stiffened. His eyes had impaled me. My jaw dropped, as he added in a low, frosty voice, “I have a message for Mrs. Rochester.”

Someone shouted from inside a room, “No! He has come to take her with him.”

I plucked up the courage to approach him and speak, “I’m afraid Mrs. Rochester cannot see you, sir, but I will take your name, if you please, to inform her of your visit.”

His frozen features set on my face, and I noticed his eyes were red, all red, and his lips mauve. The rest of his face was a cemented gravestone carved with long creases down his flat cheeks, which looked as sharp as flint. His towering black figure was like an unearthly leviathan. My legs were shaking, and I would have run away had I not decided I had to protect Mrs. Rochester from the omen of death.

Disquieting words rang out of his lips, “I am the Sin-Eater. I have come to bestow the wisdom of my ancestors upon the cadaver that is laid in this house, so that he may not become an undead.”

I was speechless, motionless, and breathless, as he continued with his foreboding address, “Time is short. His evil deeds have chained him to this world to roam and torment the living until the Last Judgment. I must see him today, or he will never rest, and his soul will wander in anguish around this house and his loved ones.”

Who was this unearthly monster? What did he want? What could I alone do to fend him off?

His threats persisted, “I must see Mr. Rochester immediately, or leave his soul to roam in this house until the Day of Judgment.”

I forced myself to breathe in and managed to raise my right hand up to my neck and clutch the tiny cross hanging from a gold chain, the only possession I owned, and mustered all my strength to reply feebly, “Please leave, sir.”

Miraculously, he walked backwards towards the door, gradually devoured by the persistent fog that had accompanied him like an entourage.

“Stop, sir!” I turned to see Simon’s distraught face run up from behind me. I had not seen him during the episode. Someone must have run downstairs and informed him of what was happening.

“Please, wait. I will inform Mrs. Rochester of your presence. Your name, please, sir?”

“Mr. Isac das Junot, from the Netherlands.”

The figure became larger again, as it walked forward, appearing even taller than before. I noticed he wore no hat and his slimy jet black hair was pressed down with a wide middle parting and tied back into a short greasy pigtail.

“Please wait here in the entrance.” The intruder nodded, as Simon continued, “You will be eating and drinking later, I expect.” The unearthly visitor smiled, showing a fistful of teeth, which were as black as his hair.

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Mrs. Rochester finally agrees to Junot’s macabre ritual, in spite of the opposition of her friends and family. I’ll post an extract tomorrow.

Why would rational and Christian Jane, acquiesce to such a disgusting ceremony?

There is a simple answer. The Sin-eater not only saves the dying from hell, but also from wandering the earth as a ghost, thereby performing a service for the living as well.

Jane knows her husband has died without confessing his sins or repenting to a religious authority, and she is not willing to take the risk of having him haunt her beloved Eyre Hall.

However, Junot is much more than a sinister or pitiable Sin-eater, he is not at Eyre Hall to receive charity, and during his brief visit, he does a great deal more than absorb Rochester’s sins, but I can’t include any spoilers to my own novel!

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Follow this link If you want to know more about The Eyre Hall Trilogy.

Passion, suspense, secrets, betrayals, villains, and romance, Book One of The Eyre Hall TrilogyAll Hallows at Eyre Hall, will be free for the first time on Kindle Deals, for five days only, to coincide with the Halloween Weekend, from 29th October to the 2nd November, 2020.

#Onthisday 29th October Chapter One of The sequel to #JaneEyre ‘All Hallows at Eyre Hall’

Chapter 1 of All Hallows at Eyre Hall takes place on the 29th of October, 1865, with Richard Mason’s visit to Eyre Hall. Here’s an excerpt from this chapter. 

Chapter 1- Mr Mason

29th October, 1865

I stepped out of the carriage onto the soggy gravel, adjusted my cloak and hat, and looked up to the rebuilt mansion for the first time.

 Twenty-three years had passed since my last visit to another house in this same spot, when I was bitten by a raging lioness fighting to preserve her offspring and her reason. My bones shivered. My sister had been wronged, my niece had been wronged, and my mission was to settle the injustice before the funeral.

The sharp smell of burning coal reminded me that there were fireplaces in this gloomy, damp climate, in which I could not envisage my ancestors ever having lived.

My eyes travelled up to the top floor and tower, wrapped in a vaporous cloud, and down again to the ground floor casements, which rose from the ground, symmetrically sliced into squares, standing out like prison bars. I could sense the witch was there watching me. I fancied her slight shadow floating over the curtains, and imagined curious fingers pulling back the heavy dark fabric in an effort to catch a glimpse of my arrival. I had received no answer to my message requesting an encounter, but I prayed she would be curious enough to converse with me.

I took an instant dislike to the sturdy valet who announced my visit. He had no business staring at me as if he were my equal when I told him my name and the purpose of my visit. His eyes bore into my back as I entered, instead of leaving at once.

The woman who was waiting for me looked exactly the same as the last time I had seen her, slight and ethereal, a trembling debutante underneath her pathetic white veil.

She slid towards me as if she were floating over the dark, Persian carpet, held out her hand limply and spoke.  

 “What brings you here, Mr. Mason?” She asked coolly.

It took me a few seconds to reply, taken aback by her unprecedented assertiveness and waiting for the defiant-looking servant to leave. I glanced his way and coughed, but he stood unmoved, like a guard dog, waiting for a sign from his mistress.

“I heard you finally became Mrs. Rochester.” I examined her carefully. She was still as pale and elflike as the last time I had seen her.

“Indeed. After your sister’s unfortunate death, Mr. Rochester and I married, as we both wished.”

She hadn’t fooled me then, and she wasn’t going to fool me now. I knew that her innocent expression was a facade which hid a determined and ambitious viper. “Not so unfortunate for you…”

“Have you come here to insult me, Mr. Mason? Because if that is the case, it will not be tolerated and I must ask you to leave at once.”

The valet took a step forward, his arms still, but his fists were clenched. Be careful, Richard, I reminded myself. She had employed over twenty years to enhance her wicked skills and now she had a guard dog.

“May I speak to you privately, madam?” I said looking at the impertienent servant. She was silent. Good. It meant that she was afraid of me, and she should be, but I would use her fear to my advantage, as soon as I could convince her to get rid of him.

“Pardon me, madam. It was not my wish to distress you. I merely pointed out that my sister’s sudden death made your marriage to my brother-in-law possible.”

I saw her left eyebrow rise slightly, and she blinked a shade quicker before replying.

“Have I wronged you in any way, Mr. Mason?”

Her complexion was pale and flawless, and although her look was stiff and almost expressionless, her smooth face was pleasing to look upon. “Indeed you have not, madam.”

“Did I not respect your sister’s existence and abandon Thornfield Hall as soon as I learned of her presence?”

“That is so, madam.”

Her thin crimson lips pursed as she tightened her jaw. Did she really believe she was innocent? Did she not see it was all her fault? She had killed my sister as surely as if she had thrown her off the buttery that tragic night. Bertha had been accused of setting the house on fire, but no one had seen her do it. They had also accused Bertha of committing suicide, therefore, her interment was without ceremony, and even so, I was not allowed to attend. It was all obviously a scheme set up by her husband to be rid of her. Edward would have done anything to be a free man and recover this enticing little sorceress.

“Can you or anyone reproach anything in my behaviour?”

I smirked as she insisted on her innocence and watched her scuttle away like a scared mouse. It was easy to imagine how they had both planned their revenge. He had rid himself of my poor, wretched sister, and she had returned to marry a widowed man.

I had decided that her curiosity by far outweighed her hatred of me, or she wouldn’t have agreed to see me. Or perhaps it was fear? In any case, I decided to play further.

“Indeed, Mrs. Rochester, you have done nothing reproachable.”

“Explain yourself, Mr. Mason. I have many matters to attend this morning.”

I had been informed by Edward’s agent that she had been attending to legal and financial matters in provision of her husband’s foreseeable death. Did she really think she was going to get away with it? Did she think that she, a plain and penniless governess, would inherit all his wealth and property, while he shunned and murdered my sister, who had been a beautiful heiress?

“Of course, madam. It is Mr. Rochester with whom I have matters to resolve.”

“Mr. Mason, you must be aware that Mr. Rochester is unwell.”

“It pains me to hear such news.”

“Allow me to doubt your sincerity on this matter.”

“Please, madam, accept my sympathy for your personal pain and your son’s.”

She shot a piercing look, moved her lips as if to speak, hesitated, then seemed to change her mind before finally speaking. “Your sympathy is accepted, because it would be unchristian to reject it.”

I envisioned the proud and uncouth Saxon who lay on his deathbed. I never understood what my sister or any of his women ever saw in his stocky figure or irksome character. I would no longer have to deal with him, thank God. She would be my new business associate, although she was not yet aware of our inevitable partnership.

“I am honoured, madam, that it should be accepted.”

“Will you now tell me what is your business, Mr. Mason?”

Did her lips curl slightly? Was she so easy to entice? Or was I being enticed? Her face did seem most pleasant, especially when the vexation ceased. I insisted more mildly on this occasion. “I have some urgent business with Mr. Rochester.”

“He is not receiving any visitors at the moment.”

“Yet, I must speak to him.”

“That will not be possible. In any case, I cannot imagine what business you should have with my husband.”

She had been suitably lured and was eager to discover the reason for my visit. “I would not wish to bother you with certain unpleasant matters, madam.”

“I am afraid you will have to deal with me from now on, Mr. Mason, so proceed.”

‘They are private matters,’ I added, glancing once again at her sentinel, who was still ready to pounce.

I wondered how much she had already discovered about her husband’s finances and offences. He was a dark horse, if ever there was one.

‘Thank you, Michael,’ she smiled at her watchdog, who unclenched his fists and took a step backwards. ‘Could you ask Beth to bring us some tea, please?’

He nodded and left, not without shooting me a threatening stare. How dare he? Who did he think he was? I would be dealing with his insolence shortly. Little did he suspect his days at Eyre Hall were numbered.

“Please sit down, Mr. Mason.”

She pointed to two high-backed Regency chairs on either side of a red teak table. Dark. In spite of the rebuilding and modern furnishings, the house was as gloomy and distasteful as the last time I had seen it while my sister still lived. It was so different to my bright colonial mansion, where one could drink iced lemonade in the mornings and dark rum in the evenings, on the verandah, inhaling the ocean breeze.

Despite the unfortunate and occasional insurrection of the local slaves, now called workers, who were usually pleasing and compliant, it was far more beautiful than this dreary land would ever be. For a moment I imagined pale, petite Jane in a colourful colonial dress revealing ample cleavage, her hair free and carelessly caressing her bare shoulders, smiling and twirling while carrying a parasol to keep the sun out of her flushed face. She would make a splendid widow. I wondered how soon she would remarry after the sick beast’s death.

“Thank you, madam.”

Mrs. Rochester sat as far away as she could on the other side of the table. “Please continue, Mr. Mason,” she said as she smoothed her pale blue day dress with her petite, gloved hands.

“The matter is pertaining to his first wife, my sister Bertha Antoinette née Mason and died Rochester.”

“The lady died twenty-three years ago, sir. There can be no further matter to discuss.”

“Oh, but there is, madam, and a very serious one indeed.”

“I trust it is not a financial matter, Mr. Mason. My husband and I have nothing more to discuss with the Mason family in this respect.”

“I’m afraid you do, madam.”

“You tire me with your games. Explain yourself once and for all or abandon my house.”

Perhaps I should speak. I wondered how she would react. Would she faint? Or have a hysterical fit, as most women would due to the inferior size of their brains? Might she call the constable and have me arrested? Or call her stalwart servant to throw me out of the house?

“Mr. Mason, whatever agreement you may have had with my husband will have to be authorized by me henceforth.”

“Mr. Rochester has broken an agreement we had. There is the matter of a certain sum of money that has not been received in the last few months.”

“Indeed? I have been supervising Mr. Rochester’s finances, and I do not recall your name on any of the transactions.”

“I have been informed that you have cancelled a transfer to Spanish Town, Jamaica.”

“That is so, to the Convent of Saint Mary. We are Church of England, sir. I cannot imagine why my husband should continue sending money to a Roman Catholic convent in Jamaica.”

“Did you not ask your husband about the matter?”

“Indeed I did.”

“Did he not tell you that you were to continue making the payments after his death?”

“He did not. He told me it was an old matter dating from his youth, and I needn’t carry his burden any further.”

“Is that so? I cannot understand why he should act in such a dishonourable manner.”

She surprised me by suddenly jumping up from her chair and rushing to the door. I got up immediately, wondering what she was going to do next. She spun around and spat out the words.

“How dare you speak to me of honour? My husband is the most honourable man I have ever met.”

“Your loyalty is touching, madam. You have been wronged, as my sister was before you. Mr. Rochester is not, has never been, an honest man.”

“I beg you, order you, not to speak of my husband disrespectfully in his own house.”

Her voice had gradually risen during our last exchange. I smiled in the security right then that my news would destroy any illusion of happiness or ounce of tranquillity she might have had in her years with Rochester.

“I doubt you will be of the same opinion when I tell you the reason for my visit. I do not wish to distress you, madam, but what I have to say may trouble you.”

She covered her face with her hands. “Why do you always bring me such bad news?”

“I humbly ask your forgiveness before I convey the tidings I must bring you.”

I revelled in her tortured frown and devastated sigh as she returned to her seat.

She straightened and looked away from me, absently caressing the folds on her dress, once more. “To the point, if you please, Mr. Mason.”

“There is someone Mr. Rochester must see before he dies.”

“No more games. You are to leave. My husband will not be molested by anyone in his final moments.”

“Not even by his daughter?”

“Who?”

She paced towards the window, breathing heavily. I could not see her face, but her shoulders were hunched, and she seemed to be trembling. I wondered if she might be crying and waited a few minutes before continuing.

“She would like to meet her father before he dies.” I said the words I had come to say slowly and softly. I wanted to make sure she heard them clearly.

We both heard the instants pass, as the small steel second hand ticked around the inner circle of the long clock standing majestically between the bay windows. Her eyes were fixed on the watery pane. Abruptly she straightened her back and lifted her head, as if she were looking for something in the sky. It was a damp dismal morning, and the cloud-burdened sky loured heavily above the laurel orchard. Her palms repeated the ritual of smoothing her dress, and then she spun around towards me, surprisingly composed after her initial shock. She spoke slowly and resolutely.

****

Download your FREE copy now, BEFORE 2nd NOVEMBER, to read the rest of the novel. International link to All Hallows at Eyre Hall! 

All Hallows Museum

Passion, suspense, secrets, betrayals, villains, and romance, Book One of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, will be free for the first time on Kindle Deals, for five days only, to coincide with the Halloween Weekend, from 29th October to the 2nd November, 2020.

Make sure you download your copy today!

Readers are invited to rediscover the mystery and magic of a Victorian Gothic Romance set in Eyre Hall, the mansion Jane Eyre rebuilt after her marriage to Edward Rochester.

This breathtaking trilogy chronicles the lives and vicissitudes of the residents of Eyre Hall from the beginning to the height of the Victorian era.

 

‘All Hallows at Eyre Hall’ The sequel to #JaneEyre is #Free on #KindleDeals #HistoricalFiction #Romance

Book One of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, will be free for the first time on Kindle Deals, for five days only, to coincide with the Halloween Weekend, from 29th October to the 2nd November, 2020.

International link to All Hallows at Eyre Hall!

Passion, suspense, secrets, betrayals, villains, and romance, at Eyre Hall, in Victorian England.

Make sure you download your copy today!

Readers are invited to rediscover the mystery and magic of a Victorian Gothic Romance set in Eyre Hall, the mansion Jane Eyre rebuilt after her marriage to Edward Rochester.

This breathtaking trilogy chronicles the lives and vicissitudes of the residents of Eyre Hall from the beginning to the height of the Victorian era.

All Hallows Museum

All Hallows at Eyre Hall is Book One of the Eyre Hall Trilogy. 

Twenty-two years have passed since her marriage to Edward Rochester and while a mature Jane is coping with the imminent death of her bedridden husband, Richard Mason has returned from Jamaica to disclose more secrets and ruin her happiness once again, instigating a sequence of events which will expose Rochester’s disloyalty to Jane, his murderous plots, and innumerable other sins. Jane will be drawn into a complex conspiracy threatening everything she holds dear.

Who was the man she thought she loved? What is she prepared to do to safeguard her family and preserve her own stability?

Find out when you read All Hallows at Eyre Hall!

 

 

#WWWBlogs ‘Why I wrote The Eyre Hall Trilogy, a Sequel to #JaneEyre’ Part 2 #HistoricalFiction

In my previous post I wrote about my inspiration and reasons for writing The Eyre Hall Trilogy and why Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte needed a sequel, which would incorporate the themes and characters in Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, and take the story one step further into the next generation, twenty-two years later.

I had four objectives in mind as I wrote The Eyre Hall Trilogy:

  • Firstly, my aim was to expose Rochester as a tyrant and revindicate Bertha Mason as his first victim. 
  • Secondly, I wanted to make sure that amends would be made, so Bertha’s daughter, Annette Mason (my literary creation), would be reinstated.
  • Thirdly, I wanted Jane to realise that Rochester had been a villain and to find love again. 

  • Fourthly, I have loved Victorian fiction since I started reading, about 46 years ago! I have looked to my favourite writers for inspiration. The Eyre Hall Trilogy is meant as a tribute to the following Victorian (and some 20th century) authors and their literary creations, who have all influenced the characters and events which appear in some form or other in my trilogy. To name a few; Mary Shelley, Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rosetti, Elizabeth Barrat Browning, Robert Browning, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas de Quincey, Robert Louis Stevenson, Oscar Wilde, Daphne du Maurier, Jean Rhys, and so many more, whose works are firmly lodged in my literary mind.

  • Finally, I aim to write novels that will entertain and engage readers by transporting them to another time and place, to a pre-digital and pre-electronic age, where our great-great grandparents lived and loved, just as intensely as we do today, in spite of not having light-blubs, modern bathrooms or kitchens, cars, phones or tablets.

The Eyre Hall Trilogy are three fast-paced, entertaining, historical novels, with gothic elements, suspense and romance, which I hope contemporary readers will enjoy.

If as a result of reading my novels, my readers are encouraged to read or reread Victorian novels, such as Jane Eyre, (as many have told me), that is an extra bonus!

Here are more of my posts about the Eyre Hall Trilogy  

Important news! Freebie over the Halloween weekend!

Book One of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, (International link follows) All Hallows at Eyre Hall will be free for the first time on kindle deals to coincide with Halloween, from 29th October to the 2nd November. Make sure you download your copy!

 

#WWWBlogs ‘Why I wrote a sequel to #JaneEyre’ Part I #HistoricalFiction ‘All Hallows at Eyre Hall’

Seven years ago, in 2013, I started writing The Eyre Hall trilogy, which took me four years to complete. Book One, All Hallows at Eyre Hall takes up the story of Jane Eyre twenty-two years after her marriage, while Rochester is on his deathbed, and we find out what has been happening at Eyre Hall, the house Jane Eyre built, after Thornfield Hall burnt down.

When I first read Jane Eyre, I was fascinated by Jane’s character and fortitude. She was an orphan who grew up in a hostile family, with her cruel Aunt Reed and her spiteful cousins.

Jane later survived physical and emotional hardships, such as sickness, malnutrition, and humiliation, at Lowood Institution, yet she was determined and intelligent enough to eventually become a teacher there.

At eighteen, she decided she had outgrown Lowood. She wanted to see the world, but she was still a poor orphan, and yet she had the resoluteness and optimism to apply for a job as a governess in order to gain further independence.

Why I'm Quitting This Teaching Bullshit to Become a Governess - McSweeney's Internet Tendency

I was naturally overjoyed when her life improved and she, seemingly, found true love in Mr. Rochester, and I was devastated to learn that not only was he already married, but that he had imprisoned his, supposedly, mad wife in his windowless attic at Thornfield Hall, in the care of the drunken Grace Poole.

Jane’s hardships started anew. In chapter XXVII, after the interruption of her marriage and Bertha Antoinette Mason’s discovery in the attic, Jane told Rochester that she was leaving, and what did Rochester do? He offered her a love nest in France:

You shall be Mrs. Rochester—both virtually and nominally. I shall keep only to you so long as you and I live. You shall go to a place I have in the south of France: a whitewashed villa on the shores of the Mediterranean. There you shall live a happy, and guarded, and most innocent life. Never fear that I wish to lure you into error—to make you my mistress.

Jane saw through his deception and rejected the offer of living with him in France, because she knew she would become the very person he said she would not become, his mistress.

So, the following dawn, she escaped from Thornfield.

Jane found herself alone and penniless once again. She was soon forced to beg for a job and shelter. I was overjoyed that she found three generous people who took her in, days later (she was in a deplorable state by then) Mary, Diana, and St. John, who were her cousins, as yet unknown to her.

I was relieved that she didn’t accept St. John’s proposal of marriage and travel as missionaries to India, because she didn’t love him. A few months later, when she was informed that she had inherited her Uncle John’s fortune and decided to share it with her cousins, it was obvious that her life was on the mend.

I was mesmerised when she finally travelled back to Thornfield Hall, because she had heard Mr. Rochester call her across the Moors on a moonlit night. When she discovered Thornfield had been burnt down, I was devastated, until I found out it had been burnt down by Bertha, who had died in the fire.

I sighed in relief because I knew Jane would be rewarded with a happy ending, and she was. ‘Reader, I married him,” she told us, and I thought ‘At last! What a relief’.

I fell in love with Rochester, too. I was about fourteen at the time. Jane was blind because she was nineteen and in love, and I was blind because I was young enough to believe Jane’s happiness would be eternal.

Twenty years later, a friend and English Teacher from Denmark, Anne, suggested I read Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys, and that’s when I understood that every story has two sides. I started wondering what kind of a man Rochester really was, and if Jane’s happiness would have lasted.

Sixteen years later, as a College Professor, preparing my classes on Postcolonial Literature in English at the University of Cordoba, I realized there was a counter narrative in which the colonial cultures wrote their way back into world history, which the dominant Europeans had written.

One of the topics we discussed in class was a comparison of Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, which tells the story of Bertha Antoinette Mason, Rochester’s ‘mad’ wife who was locked in his attic. Bertha who was dehumaised, voiceless and constrained in Jane Eyre, was given a voice, a background and a personality in Wide Sargasso Sea.

As a result of further investigations into these two novels, I wrote the chapter titled ‘Sexuality and Gender Relationships in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea’ in the Book, Identities on the Move: Contemporary Representations of New Sexualities and Gender Identities, published by Lexington Books, in 2014, when I was writing The Eyre Hall Trilogy.

The chapter discusses sexuality and gender relations in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea based on a comparative character analysis of Jane Eyre, Bertha Antoinette Mason, and Edward Rochester.

I don’t know why, it’s ridiculously expensive, but if anyone would like to you can read the article it’s on ScribdYou can also read the chapter on Google Books.

If you’re not on Scribd or if  you can’t access Google books and you’d like to read it, just let me know in the comments and I’ll send you a copy.

Jane was only nineteen when the main events occurred, and ten years older when Jane Eyre An Autobiography was written. The last few paragraphs of Jane Eyre, where she moves the story on a few years, are a couple of rushed and imprecise paragraphs. We are told that Rochester recovers his eye-sight and is able to hold his first-born son in his arms. It’s an open ended story, because the rest of their marriage is open to discussion.

That’s when I realized that Orson Wells had the key to a happy ending: ‘If you want a happy ending, that depends on where you stop the story.’

Charlotte Bronte stopped where she thought best, but Jane Eyre, like all works of art belong to the beholder, and readers are free to reinterpret any work of art. I am neither the first nor the last to do so.

I’ve written a post about this called sequels, prequels, reinterpretations, rewritings, and writing back, which deals with this topic in greater depth. Here is my post on writing sequels, prequels, reinterpretations, rewritings and writing-back.

I also agree with Derrida that ‘there is nothing outside the text’.

Everything I have written is based on the spaces between the lines of the text of Jane Eyre. 

I’ve created an intertextual and diachronic mélange in my mind, which I have translated into a trilogy. More on intertextuality in this post.

Those were the literary, philisophical and emotional reasons which led me to write a sequel to Jane Eyre.

Part 2, which deals with my specific objectives in writing The Eyre Hall Trilogy, is already live.

Meanwhile! Important news! Freebie over the Halloween weekend!

Book One of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, (International link follows) All Hallows at Eyre Hall will be free for the first time on kindle deals to coincide with Halloween, from 29th October to the 2nd November.

Make sure you download your copy!