Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction Challenge: Creating Jane Eyre

This post was written in response to Charli Mills Weekly Flash Fiction Challenge, at Carrot Ranch.

January 26, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme, “women create.” It can be art, sewing, ideas, babies. What is at the heart of women as creators? Go where the prompt takes you.

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Creating Jane Eyre

“Who’s the author of this abhorrent attempt at a novel?” asked Lady Eastlake.

“Currer Bell,” replied Mrs. Mozley.

“Who on earth is he?” asked Mrs. Rigby.

“Some say he’s a woman,” said Mrs. Mozley

“Women don’t describe such coarse and shameful relationships between men and women,” snapped Lady Eastlake.

“Unless it is such a woman who has long forfeited the society of her own sex,” said Mrs. Rigby.

“It’s unchristian. We should make sure it’s banned,” suggested Mrs. Mozley. “Just in case it’s a woman’s creation. Imagine how degrading it would be for the rest of us.”

They nodded.

****

When Jane Eyre (1847) was first published by Charlotte Bronte under the masculine pseudonym Currer Bell, it was received with mixed reviews. Some were highly praising and others harshly critical.

Some of her staunchest critics were female and criticized Jane Eyre for being vulgar, improper, anti-christian, as well as politically incorrect. Her three main female critics were Lady Eastlake, Elizabeth Rigby and Ann Mozley, the three women I’ve brought together in today’s flash.

Among the most outspoken critics was the conservative Lady Eastlake, who accused Charlotte Bronte of lack of femininity, and of agreeing with the working class uprisings of the Chartists, who were demanding votes for the working classes.

In addition to Lady Eastlake, Elizabeth Rigby, an author and art critic, and the first woman to write for the Quarterly review, stated that if the book was by a woman, “she had long forfeited the society of her own sex.” Rigby also considered Jane Eyre  showed “coarseness of language and laxity of tone.” Rigby was especially irate about her unflattering depictions of the aristocracy, accusing Charlotte Bronte of a “total ignorance of the habits of society.”

Ann Mozley, writing for the Christian Remembrancer in 1848, writes “Never was there a better hater. Every page burns with moral Jacobinism.” The Jacobins were French revolutionaries who aimed to abolish the monarchy and do away with class distinctions, as well as instituting a universal vote, an idea abhorrent to upper class, Anglican Britons.

According to these and other critics, Jane Eyre challenged traditional views about how women should act and behave, and therefore threatening the established social order.

Jane is indeed rebellious and demands respect and equality, although she knows her place, she also believes that her fate isn’t written in stone. Here are her unforgettable words to overbearing Mr. Rochester:

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Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since the 19th century. Censorship, accepting injustice and exploitation, and gender, racial or religious discrimination is something we aim to overcome.

Well done Jane Eyre for shocking them all out of their complacency!

You’d be happy to know that my sequel takes up her fiercely independent, outspoken and resilient, free spirit.

In Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, Charles Dickens visits Jane Eyre (at that time, Mrs. Mason) at Eyre Hall for a few days over Christmas. Dickens confesses that he has left his wife and has a young mistress, although it is a well kept secret, because he is not prepared to affront the establishment. When Jane tells him she is having an affair with Lieutenant Kirkpatrick, her former valet, and she is no longer hiding her feelings, he replies:

“How invigorating! Are you going to shock us all and defy the laws of propriety? How brave of you!”    

That’s my Jane!

January Reviews: 19 Fabulous Novels #amreading #amreviewing

  • What Have I been reading and reviewing in January?

19 Books! I’ve had a wonderful January. I’m sure I have broken some kind of record; I’ve never read so many books in one month in my life, and I’ve enjoyed them all thoroughly. This may have been due to the fact that I’ve been in bed a good few days with the flu, and enjoyed many cosy evenings reading by the fireplace, whatever the reason, I feel very inspired!

I’ve experienced passion, adventure, crime, love, fear, terror, madness, heartbreak, loss, forgiveness, distress, happiness, and laughter. I’ve travelled to the Scottish Highlands, an idyllic Irish island, The English countryside and London, Maine, New York, Boston, US small towns, an enigmatic lake in US, the wilds of Alaska.

So, I’ve had plenty of fun!

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  • The books I didn’t review.

I’ve read and reviewed 19 books. I’ve also started many others, but didn’t get past the ‘look inside’ pages, because I didn’t enjoy reading, so I didn’t finish, and therefore didn’t review.

I don’t review the books I dislike, for two reasons:

1) I didn’t finish them, so it seems unfair, who knows if the book improved?  Perhaps I wasn’t in the mood for that type of book on that particular day?

2) I don’t like sending negative messages into the world. What’s the point?

You may say ‘to warn readers’. Readers can read blurbs and 10% of the book for free, so in less than five or ten minutes, they’ll know if they want to buy it or not.

I’m not on a crusade to save readers, they are perfectly capable of saving themselves!

My aim is to point out the positive aspects of the books I enjoy, hoping that others will enjoy them, too, and I’m also supporting other authors.

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  • Why do I read?

1- To Unwind. A cup of tea or glass of wine depending on the day, and a book I enjoy is a wonderful end to a busy or boring day.

2- To Learn. I read to observe how other writers write. I check out everything! From formal aspects such as the blurb, the acknowledgements, whether the chapters have names or numbers, or both, to linguistic and literary aspects such as the use of dialogue tags, adverbs, prologue or epilogue, characterisation, plot development. I usually highlight along the way, so I go back and have a look later. It’s easy to do with the kindle app.

3- To Research. I read to try to understand why I (and other readers) enjoy reading the books I/they read. What makes a book compelling? It’s like an assignment. The best way to learn to write is not necessarily to read books on writing, it’s to read books critically and with an observant and open mind. I’m not only reading, I’m also learning to write, which is an ongoing process. And believe me, every single page I read teaches me something about my own writing process.

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Going back to my reviews. There are far too many reviews to include in one post, so I’m going to be posting them over various days and weeks.

This is a peek of the reviews I’ll be posting:

The retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in the Scottish Highlands, two erotic romances, a disturbing tale of horror and madness, two romantic comedies, a sweet Christmas themed love story, a courtroom thriller, an Intense romantic trilogy set in Manhattan, an action packed romance set in Alaska, A disturbing psychological drama set in the UK, a contemporary family drama set in an American small town, A heartwarming love story of two families who have suffered loss through cancer, a romantic family drama set in Ireland, Crime fiction set in Maine, A historical romance set in Edwardian England, a sweet and humorous office romance, two thriller suspense novels.

Here are two of my favourite this month:

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I’m penning mostly shorter, more concise and quicker reviews, because I need more time for reading and my own writing, and I believe they’re more helpful to readers and authors.

In some cases, I’ll be including short author spotlights or interviews, with my review.

If you’re very impatient and want to read my reviews straight away, my reviews are all here on amazon 

They’re also posted to my Facebook page Lucy Shares Lovely Books, where I let readers know what I’m reading, what I’m reviewing, and news about book promotions.

What have you been reading in January?

Writers as Reviewers

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Today’s insecurity is related to reviewing. Should I review every book I read or only those I enjoyed and would therefore recommend? Should writers review other writers publicly at all?

Most writers are avid readers, and some are also reviewers. It seems logical for writers who are readers to review the books they read, but is it always a good idea?

I must admit, I never used to review the books I read on Amazon, and I’ve been a regular amazon kindle and paperback customer for years. I used to think reviewing was for experts, until I started publishing myself, and realized how useful it is for other readers and helpful for authors, so I started reviewing many of the books I read from that moment onwards. At first, I thought it was a great idea, everyone wins.

Over a year later, with over 50 reviews on Amazon.com, and at least the same number on my blog, I’m not so sure it’s a good idea any more. I’m always kind when I review, because I know what an author has gone through in order to write and publish a book, but that doesn’t mean I’m not honest. On the other hand, if I don’t like the book, or think it needs more work, I sometimes tell the author privately, if I think the information can be useful, but I normally don’t review it publicly.

I’m convinced that my opinion will always be biased and therefore unjust. Why? Because although I have a solid linguistic and literary academic background, my opinion is not valuable enough to cause a negative effect on anyone’s ratings or self-confidence, after all, I may be wrong, since part of my opinion is linked to personal tastes and preferences.

There are some interesting articles on the topic:

http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/ethics-of-reviewing/ Discusses the ethics of reviewing books by authors we know.

http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/why-indie-authors-should-give-honest-reviews-as-readers/ Discusses the negative results of giving negative reviews.

http://barbtaub.com/2015/05/23/should-writers-be-reviewers/ An interesting and recent discussion on the topic of negative reviews.

So, what do you think? Should writers write positive and negative reviews? Should we review at all? Or should we just write? I’m not sure any more…

This post is part of Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly Blog Hop. Follow the link to have a look at some of the other posts and/or join in.