Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1966), The Prequel which inspired the Sequel to Jane Eyre: The Eyre Hall Series

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).

Check out my review on Goodreads

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 she is 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?

You can read the first chapter on this blog post:

Find out more about Blood Moon at Eyre Hall here:

International link to Blood Moon at Eyre Hall here

Days of Yore #SoCS

This post is written in response to Linda Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS) prompt

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “your, you’re or yore” Use it in your post as a noun or a verb… or a name! Enjoy!

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Days of Yore

We all have our own days of yore. They start when we’re still children.

As soon as we’re old enough to have memories we can recall the days of yore.

Even so, the word yore has a distant sound to it, as if it refers to things which happened long before our own memories began.

The days of yore refer to the memories of others who have died generations before us. So why do they belong to us, too?

Perhaps their recollections are still alive in our collective unconscious. Don’t we all remember and re-imagine the same things?

Isn’t storytelling and all forms of literature a way of recalling and passing on events of the days of yore?

The big bad wolf, the fierce dragon, the handsome prince, the wicked stepmother, the Trojan Horse, the pairs of animals in Noah’s Arc, King Arthur’s Round Table, etc. Someone must have seen and recalled them of yore and passed on the memory, because, don’t we remember them as if we’d seen them ourselves?

The problem is, it’s like Chinese whispers, as the stories are passed down over generations they gradually change; they transform into something else, something later generations can relate to…

They say the legend of the mad woman confined to an attic was told to Charlotte Bronte on a visit to a local country house in her youth. Years later she recreated the legend in Bertha Mason, who became the catalyst in Jane Eyre and most famous secondary character in literary history.

I also shared Miss Bronte’s memories of the days of yore and remembered the story of the screams on the third floor and imagined that a baby was crying in that windowless attic, a baby who returned as a young woman to claim her birthright by her father’s deathbed: Annette Mason in The Eyre Hall Trilogy.

It happened of yore, but I remember it so well, don’t you?

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Meet The Main Characters in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall

Three Days to Book Launch

Main Characters in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall

Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall is the second volume in the sequel to Jane Eyre. Some of the main characters in this novel also appeared in Charlotte Bronte’s original novel, nevertheless, I have moved them on 22 years. I have developed their characters, reinventing them at a later stage in their lives. Other characters are my own creation.

Characters mentioned in Jane Eyre:

Jane Eyre, Richard Mason, Leah, Admiral Fitzjames (he was captain in Jane Eyre), Mrs. Diana Fitzjames, Adele Varens, Bertha Mason, Dr. Carter.

Characters of my own creation:

John Eyre Rochester, Michael and Susan Kirkpatrick, Annette Mason, ‘young’ Dr. Carter, Captain Carrington, Mr. Greenwood, Dante Greenwood, Nell Rosset, Jenny Rosset, Phoebe, Simon and Beth.

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Jane Eyre. Jane is no longer a nineteen-year-old naïve and young girl. She is a mature woman in her early forties. She is involved in social work, mainly with orphans and parish schools. She writes novels, much like Charlotte Bronte did, and manages the Rochester estate. She had been married to Mr. Rochester for over 20 years, and had one son and several miscarriages. There were many ups and downs in the marriage, which ended with Edward Rochester’s death in book 1, All Hallows at Eyre Hall. The end of book one left Jane in a state of confusion, depression and physical illness. Her husband had died, she was blackmailed into marrying Mr. Mason, her husband’s brother-in-law, she suffered yet another miscarriage, and the man she thought she loved left her. She is gradually recovering her physical and mental stability.

Mr. Mason. Richard Mason was Mr. Rochester’s greedy and evil brother-in-law. He was Bertha Mason’s brother. Bertha Mason was Mr. Rochester’s first mad wife. Richard returned from Jamaica with Miss Annette Mason, Bertha’s secret daughter (Book 1). Jane married him because he promised to hide Mr. Rochester’s secrets from young John Eyre Rochester.

Annette Mason. She was born in Thornfield Hall from an unknown father, while her mother, Bertha Mason, was married to Edward Rochester and locked in his attic. Her uncle, Richard Mason, took Annette back with him to Jamaica, where she was brought up in a convent, as an orphan, supervised by her uncle. Her uncle brought her back to England to claim her birthright when Mr. Rochester died (book 1). She is living at Eyre Hall as Jane’s ward.

John Rochester. He is Jane and Rochester’s son. He is headstrong, spoilt, and rich. He is in love with Annette, whom he believes is his cousin. He had accepted an arranged marriage of convenience, but his fiancée died, and now Jane is trying to convince him to marry her flirtatious younger sister, Phoebe. He is studying Law at Oxford.

Michael Kirkpatrick. In book 1, he was Jane’s faithful valet, but he left when she accepted Mr. Mason’s proposal, because he was in love with Jane. He joined the Royal Navy and is promoted to lieutenant by Captain Carrington. In book 2 he returns to Eyre Hall to help his sister, Susan, who also works for the Rochester family.

Captain Carrington is Michael’s captain on board the HMS Princess Helena. He is a father-figure to Michael, whose father was killed at sea when he was a child. He was captain to Admiral Fitzjames, who is married to Jane’s cousin, Diana.

Nell Rosset. Nell is a lively, young girl who is Jane’s companion throughout her illness. She reads to her and walks with her. Her mother, Jenny, is a seamstress at Eyre Hall and Mr. Mason’s mistress.

Adele Varens was Mr. Rochester’s ward. Jane Eyre was first employed at Thornfield Hall as her governess. Her mother, Céline Varens, was Mr. Rochester’s mistress in France, for a time. He always denied being her father. She was a spinster, who now has a widowed suitor, the poet, Mr. Greenwood. They have been living in Venice for the past year with Mr. Greenwood’s young son, Dante. Susan, Michael’s sister, has accompanied Adele as her maid and companion. Adele and Mr. Greenwood are soon to be married.

‘Young’ Dr. Carter is Dr. Carter’s son. He is an intelligent young man, who has taken over his father’s practice in the area, with modern ideas on medicine. He is living at Ferndean, a manor house on the Rochester Estate, with his mother.

Mrs. Leah is the housekeeper at Eyre Hall. She also worked at Thornfield Hall before Jane Eyre arrived. She is the only living person who knows everything about the Rochester family, including their secrets.

 Simon and Beth are two loyal servants at Eyre Hall who are in a relationship.

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

For those of you who have read book one or two, which is your favourite character, and why?