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.”
How I imagined I saw my uncle’s ghost in the red-room
I was unjustly accused of violence and wickedness towards my cousin, John, and reminded that I was less than a servant. They warned me that if I was not congenial, I would be sent to the poorhouse.
I knew my aunt had promised my uncle, Mr Reed, that she would rear and maintain me as her own. Instead, she considered me an alien intruder in her family. I was an unloved and unwanted guest at Gateshead Hall. They called me naughty, sullen and sneaking. Everything I did was at fault, consequently I was always suffering, brow beaten and condemned.
Miss Abbot and Bessie, both servants at Gateshead, wanted to tie me up with a pair of garters. I promised to keep still, and they left me on a low ottoman near the marble chimneypiece in the red room, the largest and coldest room, furnished with a bed, dark mahogany chairs and wardrobe. There was a miniature of my poor uncle, who had died in this very room.
The rain was beating on the windows, and the wind howled in the grove behind the Hall. When night fell and I saw a ghost in the looking glass, I screamed and sobbed to be let out, but they did not believe me. I was so terrified that my uncle would rise from the grave that I had a fit and lost consciousness.
The second chapter of Jane Eyre intensifies Jane’s sense of abandonment, loneliness and lack of love or support.
Another chilling aspect is added to her misery, her uncle’s ghostly presence in the ominous room. Jane is threatened with the poorhouse, almost tied up, and locked in the red room, where her uncle died and presumably haunts in the dead of night.
A terrifying situation for a helpless ten-year-old child.
There was no possibility of taking a walk that chilly November afternoon.
My cousins Eliza, John and Georgina were clustered around their mother and my aunt, Mrs Reed, in the drawing room, while I was kept at a distance, accused of insolence.
I made myself at home on the window-seat in the breakfast-room, behind a heavy curtain, reading Berwick’s History of British Birds, with its eerie pictures, which told mysterious stories of marine phantoms, churchyards, torpid seas and gallows.
My cousin, John, who at fourteen was four years older and twice my size, interrupted my solitude, ordering me to return his book because I was a penniless orphan and an unwanted guest at his house.
I did as requested and he threw the book at my head with such force that I fell and hit my head on the door. Blood trickled down my neck. “You are wicked like the Roman emperors,” I said, because I had read all about Nero and Caligula in Goldsmith’s History of Rome.
He called me a rat and pulled my hair viciously. I fought him off frantically and when his mother found us; I was accused of aggressive behaviour and dragged upstairs to be locked in the red room.
The first chapter of Jane Eyre is impressive. The reader is thrust into a brave, intelligent and abused ten-year-old’s struggle to survive in a hostile world.
The story begins in Jane’s lowest moment; orphaned, unloved, bullied, physically beaten, silenced and locked in a room. It may not be a coincidence that at this precise moment, Bertha Antionetta Mason, the first Mrs Rochester, was also locked in the attic at Thornfield Hall.
We learn that Jane is an orphan who lives with her unloving aunt and nasty cousins, much like Cinderella, but with a bullying boy added to the picture. We also know she is an intelligent child who reads and understands books for adults about Roman emperors and birds.
We feel immediate compassion for the child, but we are also aware that she is not to be pitied. Jane is an intelligent and spirited girl who is prepared to face her bullies and fight for her freedom.
I regularly reread Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Sometimes the whole book, other times passages and it never gets old! There’s always something new I notice or think about. As this blog is called Rereading Jane Eyre and all my novels so far were directly influenced by Jane Eyre I thought I’d share my latest rereading on my blog this time.
But the question I asked myself was, ‘How do I breathe new life into my rereading of Jane Eyre, a novel which has been read and discussed millions of times over the last two centuries?’
Everything I could think of, such as write summaries or opinions of each chapter has already been done. On the other hand, I didn’t just want to write posts for students to pass exams or do their homework, although I’m delighted if students of English or Victorian literature drop by and get some value from my blog, after all, I am/was a teacher (once a teacher always a teacher!)
I also wanted it to be fun for me. Life’s short and wonderful, so I’m only prepared to take on projects I feel passionate about. So how could I bring renewed passion into yet another rereading of the classic?
The solution came to me suddenly, as all my best ideas do.
I enjoy writing flash fiction and I enjoy reading Jane Eyre, so why not combine both?
Photo by No Longer Here. See more of their images on Pixabay
This weekly post will include a flash fiction rewriting of each of the 38 chapters of Jane Eyre. My aim is to condense each chapter to less than 250 words and maintain the tone, style, vocabulary and content of the original novel. At the same time, each flash fiction chapter will be a complete story in itself, to be continued the following week.
The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find by clicking on the book cover.
Why Flash Fiction?
I’ve been writing flash fiction since I discovered it six years ago, and it’s definitely helped me as a writer by building awareness of the value of making every word count whatever I write. I explain this in greater detail in this post.
Who are these flash fiction chapters for?
Before I answer the question I’d like to encourage you all to read or reread Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, because it’s one of the greatest novels in the English language.
Jane Eyre is on many diverse lists of ‘Best English Novels’ and it has been giving readers all over the world hours of pleasure and inspiration for over 170 years.
However, I do appreciate that Victorian novels are three volumes long and much more slow-paced than 21st century novels, so they are not for all contemporary readers, and yet, if I can create an interest in readers with my flash fiction samples (or my novels), to read the original, that would be fabulous.
Back to the question. These posts are for anyone who has not read the novel and would like to get the feel of it, as well as people who have read it some time ago and don’t remember much, and for anyone who enjoys reading flash fiction.
I will also include a brief commentary on the chapter and some quotes and discussion questions, which may be of value to teachers, students and general readers. My aim is to keep the whole post to between 500-600 words.
So if you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.
Before I discuss the ten lies Mr. Rochester told Jane in Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, I’d like to summarize some key aspects about the nature of lies.
According to Neuroscientist, Sam Harris in his concise and brilliant book Lying, ‘To lie is to intentionally mislead others when they expect honest communication. People lie so that others will form beliefs that are not true.’
Most people consider there are degrees to lying, from lying out of what we consider kindness, or white lies, to malicious reasons, or black lies, but Harris considers that both types of lies are equally harmful, because the liar is consciously creating a false reality for their victim, the person who is tricked or duped.
Harris claims lies of any color are harmful. Moreover, he reminds us that an ethically superior, noble person does not lie. He affirms that lies cause irreparable damage to our relationships, sacrificing our honesty, and giving up the possibility of deep and meaningful bonds with the people we interact with.
The value of integrity by far outweighs any short-term benefits of lying. A person who lies lacks moral principles, and the victim will lose faith and trust in this person.
By denying reality and lying to ourselves and others, we also make it impossible to face reality or develop meaningful relationships based on honesty and mutual trust.
Now let’s identify Mr. Rochester’s lies to Jane Eyre.
First a warning: this post is not suitable for unconditional fans of Mr. Rochester.
Where to start with the gentleman’s lies? I could organize them according to the severity or the type of lie, but I’m going to take a chronological approach. I’ll identify his lies in the order in which they appear in the novel. I’ll describe Rochester’s lie, identify the intention, and discuss the consequences.
The first time Rochester met Jane was when his horse slipped on the ice on the causeway. On this occasion, he pretended to be someone else, although he didn’t say he was someone else, he asked about Mr. Rochester, as if he didn’t know this person. He doesn’t actually say he is not Rochester, but he leads her to believe he is not Mr. Rochester. The intention is unclear. I’d say he enjoys being condescending and playing with Jane by leaving her in the dark. He found out who she was, but refused to reveal his own identity, to benefit his amusement, because there was nothing to gain. The consequences were that Jane was surprised and mortified when she discovered his identity.
Later, he accused Jane of bewitching his horse, which was a downright lie because he was not a superstitious man. His intention in this case was to cover up his mistake. He didn’t want to admit that he was not a perfect horseman who had slipped because he was riding too fast, and perhaps once again, he enjoyed teasing her. He may also have wanted her to feel responsible for his accident. The consequence was that Jane let him know she wasn’t superstitious, and she was not willing to agree with everything he said.
He said Adele’s mother claimed he was her father, and he denied it. But why else would such a selfish and unloving man take in a little girl as his ward? His intention was to convince Jane that Adele was not his daughter, and the consequence was that Jane felt sorry for him and considered him a victim.
He pretended to be interested in marrying Blanche Ingram, but he was simply using her to make Jane jealous. That was a double lie, which was disrespectful to both women. The consequence was that Jane handed in her notice, and Rochester confessed he loved her and proposed.
He pretended to be a gypsy fortune-teller during the party at his house, and although that was a game, ironically, it was the only lie she caught him out on at once.
He did not disclose the nature of his relationship with Richard Mason, who was his brother-in-law. Neither did he tell Jane that Mr. Mason had come to visit his sister in the attic. He led Jane to believe Mason was dangerous, while in fact it was Rochester who had imprisoned his sister. Although it was not considered a criminal act at the time, he knew it was morally wrong to lock your wife in the attic, which was why he didn’t want Jane to know what he had done.
He led Jane to believe that Grace Pool was responsible for attacking Mr. Mason the night while he stayed at Thornfield (it was Bertha). This is a lie by omission and commission, because although Jane made the suggestion out of innocence, he repeated the lie maliciously.
He asked Jane to marry him, although he was already married. He led her to the altar, knowing the marriage would be annulled. He must have realized the bigamy would eventually have been discovered, after his wedding night and honeymoon, ruining Jane’s prospects in the long term.
When the wedding was interrupted by a lawyer, Mr. Briggs and Mr. Mason, he still denied it all inside the church. He finally admitted he was married and took them to visit his wife, whom he had kept in the attic in a deplorable condition. Even so, he continued to defend his actions. He insisted on the marriage because he considered himself above both divine and man-made laws. The consequence was that Jane left him.
When the marriage was definitely canceled, he offered Jane a villa in France where she could live as his ‘friend’. He was obviously asking her to be his mistress, although he denied it. He even forcefully tried to persuade her, which was why she escaped from Thornfield at daybreak.
There are two more very serious lies, but there is no explicit proof in the novel.
11 and 12. Perhaps Bertha didn’t start the fire or fall off the battlements. Perhaps he started the fire and/or pushed her. I find it hard to believe Mr. Rochester would go up to the roof to save his mad wife’s life, risking his own, when he could be finally rid of her.
But he wasn’t the only person to lie to Jane Eyre. Here is another post I wrote called Liars in Jane Eyre with a few more liars.
Finally, Mr. Rochester promised eternal love, but would they have lived happily ever after?
I have no doubt that Mr. Rochester was in love, or perhaps infatuated by Adele’s young governess, but how long would their honeymoon period have lasted? Bearing in mind his irascible and selfish character and Jane’s generosity, kindness and independence, I doubt it would have lasted longer than her first childbirth.
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.
In Jane Eyre
In All Hallows at Eyre Hall
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mr Rochester’s housekeeper whose husband was related to his mother, née Fairfax.
She is only mentioned.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
November 4 question – Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?
This is a question I rarely ask myself explicitly, but I do think about the answer, because so many people ask me, and on this occasion it’s the Insecure Writer’s question for the month, so I’ll do my best to reply.
As I understand it, this question has two parts, a) why I write and b) why I write what I write.
a) Why do I write?
I write because I can’t not write, the same as I can’t not think, or feel, or walk, or talk.
Once I learn to do something which is useful and rewarding, it becomes part of my life and I can’t unlearn it or undo it.
I can’t stop writing a poem when I see a beautiful image, or have an emotional thought, or memory.
I can’t help carrying a notebook and jotting down ideas for poems or scenes for my books, and I’m sure I’ll never stop doing it, in fact I shudder to think I could ever stop the creativity flowing through my mind.
Now to the second part of the question, b) why do I write what I write?
I write about topics which I feel strongly about. This doesn’t mean I’m on a mission to change or improve the world, I would never be so presumptuous, it just means that I write about what is significant for me.
I write poems because I love capturing my emotions with a few symbolic words and giving them an artistic shape and sound, based on syllables and rhythm or rhyme.
I write Victorian novels because I admire Victorian authors who gave me so many hours of joyful reading and inspiration, and in so doing, I offer them my humble tribute.
I write about Jane Eyre, because when I first read it in my early teens, it was the first novel that inspired me to even think about writing myself, and I’ve never been able to get Jane Eyre out of my mind.
I write my blog because I want to reach out to and communicate with other authors and readers. It’s thrilling to know I can ‘meet’ and interact with other people who I’d never be able to reach or talk to or read about in my day-today life, if I wasn’t an active blogger.
I could go on, and if we could sit and chat with a coffee, a tea, a beer or a glass of wine, depending on our mood and the time of day, we’d share more ideas and reasons, because I’d love to know why you write too, and of course, why you write what you write.
Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to like and/or share and/or leave a comment 🙂
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
In my previous post I wrote about my inspiration and reasons for writing The Eyre Hall Trilogyand 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 Trilogyare 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!
Important news! Freebie over the Halloween weekend!
Book One of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, (International link follows) All Hallows at Eyre Hallwill 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!
Welcome to the Power of PIES. I apologize to those coming to this site looking for dessert : ) Instead, the PIES represented here is the powerful combination of Prayer, Imagination, Emotion, and Starting now. Read on, and I promise you will be impacted in a positive way. After all, life is sweet. Enjoy it!