Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall Chapter One #BookLaunch #Histfic #JaneEyreSequel

Chapter 1 – Abodes of Horror

Grimsby Retreat, 16th December 1867

Jane

Please, Lord, do not let me lose my mind in this dreadful place. Help me preserve my sanity. I must return to Michael and Helen at Eyre Hall. I have been removed to this terrifying house in a fraudulent manner, deprived of my freedom, and caged in an infernal cave like an animal.

I was dragged to this disturbing place and ensnared in a cage twelve nights ago by a group of armed men who barged into Eyre Hall while I was alone. I resisted, but they forced me into a carriage and brought me here in the dead of night. I do not know where I am, except that it is over four hours’ drive from home.

I have been maliciously confined, and even if I managed to escape, I do not know in which direction I should flee. There are thick woods to the north, east and west, and I have no idea what lies to the south, as I have not yet seen that part of the house or grounds. Although I have only been here for a short time, my captivity is already proving unbearable.

My first days were distressing. I was not allowed to wash or wear clean clothes. They said they were waiting for my trunk, but I told them I did not want a trunk, because I wanted to go home, and they brought me a grey flannel dress, which was so long that the skirt dragged along the floor and so coarse that it scraped my skin like sandpaper.

When I asked Mrs Mills, the person who seems to be in charge of us, if I could wash, she laughed and said the showers were only for those who caused trouble. I was given a basin and some cold water; no soap or ointments. My face was dry and my lips were parched, so I asked for the toiletries I was accustomed to using, and that was when I discovered where I was. Mrs Mills laughed again and told me it was not a guesthouse, but an asylum for the mentally insane.

I was shocked when I heard the sinister nature of my abode of horror. Why had I been removed to this mansion of despair? Could it be a nightmare conjured up by my wondering mind? How could I suddenly find myself in this sea of misery and madness?

My first visitor had been a tall, angular man with a sallow face and weary eyes who said his name was Dr Stevens.

“Where is Dr Carter? He is my doctor.”

He made some notes in a worn notebook and sighed. “I am a special doctor for people who have your particular type of malady, madam.”

“Thank you for your visit, Doctor, but I assure you I am not ill. However, I am missing my home and my family.”

He looked up with a brief smile which didn’t reach his eyes. “We can start there to ascertain your health. Who exactly are you missing?”

“Michael, my betrothed, and Helen, my daughter. I miss them terribly.” I used the damp handkerchief in my hands to wipe away fresh tears, but I breathed in deeply and made sure I kept my composure.

 He pursed his lips and wrote more words in his notebook. “Fabrications, madam.”

“I don’t understand, Doctor.”

He left his pen on the table beside his notebook and looked at me as if I were a poor beggar who had asked for a morsel to eat. 

“The man you mentioned, Michael Kirkpatrick, I believe is a servant who was once in your employ but is now a convict.”

“That is not possible. What has he been convicted of?”

“Theft and assault. Before his departure, he stole belongings from Eyre Hall and he assaulted you.”

“You must be mistaken. Michael and I will be married on Christmas Eve.”

“You are a widow, and you cannot remarry without your son’s consent, madam, and in your present condition, he cannot agree to such madness.”

I realised this doctor would not help me, so I did not argue. When I left this dreadful place, I would speak to John and clear Michael’s name.

“And where is Helen?”

He looked at his notes. “Yes, Helen. She is a servant at Eyre Hall, the same as Michael. They have both conspired to rob you of your reason, and it seems they have succeeded. You have only one son and his name is John Rochester.”

A throbbing at the back of my head spread to my temples and forehead as I tried to make sense of his words. It was a nightmare, and I had to wake up. I flew to the small window and grabbed the iron bars; they seemed real, but this could not be happening. I needed to get out of this terrifying place. 

“Dr Stevens, I need to go home.”

“You cannot leave here until you admit that it has all been a fabrication of your feeble mind, Mrs Mason. Michael is a servant who seduced you, robbed and attacked you, and Helen is another servant’s daughter who you have imagined is the stillborn child you lost ten years ago. The sooner you admit it, the earlier you will leave.”

Someone must have given him this false information. I had to find out who was behind this conspiracy. “May I ask you who has informed you of this?”

“Archbishop Templar has always taken an interest in Grimsby Retreat, where you are now staying. Your son has asked him to take care of you and his late father’s estate in his absence until he returns from his visit to America.”

Was it possible that the archbishop had fabricated the lies and convinced these people that I was a madwoman? What was his purpose in confining me and imprisoning Michael? I could not yet fathom the answers to these questions. But it would seem the bishop had become our worst enemy.  

“Where is John? When can I see him?”

“In due time, when you are recovered. We will take good care of you, Mrs Mason. Your confusion is understandable. You have lost two husbands in just over a year, your only son left home, your miscarriages and stillborn child have added to your sorrow.” He patted my hand and smiled. “But worry not; we will take good care of you.”

I raised my hands to my hair and felt for my hairpins. I knew Michael was as real as the little silver butterflies with crystal pendants I was wearing. They were his favourite. I stroked the long pin which, being firmly fixed and covered by my dishevelled hair, had not been removed. I imagined that as long as I could feel it, Michael would find me. I smiled demurely at the foolish doctor and thanked him kindly. What else could I do while I prayed Michael and Helen were safe?

The following days merged into endless hours of misery. The house grew colder and gloomier every minute. In the mornings we had breakfast in a large hall where there was a small fire covered by a huge grate, insufficient to heat the chill room. Porridge, gritty brown bread and tea were passed around the long table. I drank the tea but hardly touched the food. Dinner was tasteless and tough, stewed meat and soggy boiled vegetables which did little to encourage my waning appetite.

I was required to spend the mornings in the icy room with the other residents on my floor. There was nothing in the behaviour of these women to suggest that they were any more unstable than I was. They were all well-dressed and reasonably groomed, although they moved with heavy feet and cautious eyes, which I supposed was due to our bleak surroundings and Mrs Mills’ bad temper.

There were six other ladies on my floor. Mrs Pengilly was a quiet, elderly lady who told me she had been admitted by her husband to mend her nerves. She liked to sit by the fireplace with Miss Short, a stout, middle-aged spinster whose father was worried about her habit of reading and eating too much. Miss Fowler was a tall young lady with bulging eyes who spoke in a loud voice with a Scottish accent; she sat alone in a corner reading one of the tattered copies of the Bible from the sparse bookshelves. Mrs Black was a widow who was usually found knitting by the window. She told me her brother brought her here every year in December and January, because she refused to take part in the Christmas celebrations. Miss Craft, a fine-looking and smartly-dressed woman, rarely spoke. She occasionally played the out-of-tune piano in the corner. A young girl called Katy, who refused to eat or speak, drew pencil sketches of angels and demons. I had seen no one else, but I knew there were more prisoners on the other floors, because I heard their cries at night and fits of demoniac laughter echoing from below during the day. 

As one monotonous day rolled into another, I began to sink into despair. I felt as if I had been buried alive, unable to eat or sleep, until I realised that these first days had been a holiday. Chaos was about to send Satan on his way to ruin me. I prayed Michael would find me soon, or I would die in this godforsaken inferno.

One morning when I heard Katy crying, I approached her and asked if she would like to talk to me about what ailed her, but she shook her head fiercely. “Be quiet. Don’t tell anyone,” she chanted.

That evening, I heard sobs coming from Katy’s room, which was across the hall from mine. I jumped out of bed and listened behind my door, which was locked on the outside. I heard her feet dragging along the floor. “Not to the shed, please,” she said, and a man’s voice answered, “Be quiet. You know the rules.” I listened to her muffled cries until they ceased. I peered out of my window and waited. Minutes later I heard more cries and saw two figures crossing the garden towards the shed, but it could have been the wind, or wild animals. The noises ceased, and I hoped I had imagined that Katy was in trouble, because there was nothing I could do to help her.   

The following morning, when Katy was not sitting at the breakfast table, I asked Mrs Mills if she was unwell.

“Unwell? Not at all. She has been discharged. Her parents took her back home yesterday evening.”

Miss Craft raised her hands and moved her fingers in the air, playing an imaginary piano. “That’s good news,” she said and dropped her hands back to her lap.

“I’ll miss her,” said Miss Pengilly, and Miss Short nodded.

Miss Fowler’s terrified eyes glanced at Mrs Black, who shot up, knocking her chair to the floor. “She didn’t say goodbye. She should have said goodbye. I knitted her a scarf. She was my friend. Friends say goodbye when they leave!” 

Mrs Mills made eye contact with each one of us before speaking. “Silence, or I shall call Dr Stewart. He will not be pleased.” She paused, stabbing me with her eyes. “I had not realised you were such a troublemaker, Mrs Mason. You will stay in your room until further notice.”

The following days were short and gloomy, merging into one long night. I watched the motion of the moon glide under the clouds, and I imagined I saw a shadow in the grounds. I whispered Michael’s name and cried bitterly; little did I know that the real inferno was about to begin.

It started with a knock on my door one stormy afternoon some days after Katy’s mysterious disappearance. I had found a worn copy of David Copperfield and took pleasure in stroking its weathered pages, for I had trouble focusing on the words. Bitter tears spilled from my eyes, smearing the ink, as I remembered my conversations with Mr Dickens at Eyre Hall. 

“May I intrude, Jane Eyre?”

I jumped out of my chair and turned abruptly, surprised to hear my maiden name in a voice I did not recall. Neither did I recognise the large, overfed body or bulging blue eyes which stared back at me.

“Good afternoon, sir. Are we acquainted?”

“You do not remember me?”

I would not have forgotten his bulging reptilian eyes, which did not blink. “I’m afraid not, but please sit down. It is not often I have company, sir.”

I waved towards a rickety chair by the writing desk and sat down again myself. My visitor nodded and obliged. His corpulent presence and repulsive odour filled the tiny room. I coughed and held my handkerchief to my nose.

“I hope you are comfortable here, Jane Eyre, for that is your name, is it not?”

“I am Mrs Mason at present.” I wanted to tell him that soon I would be Mrs Kirkpatrick, but I remembered the doctor’s words. “My husband died over a year ago.”

“You were once called Mrs Rochester, I believe?”

“Yes, Mr Rochester died over two years ago. Did you know my husband, Mr—?”

“Yes, I met both your husbands, madam. Mr Rochester and Mr Mason both employed my mother’s services at Thornfield Hall. Do you not remember me? My name is Poole, Mr Daniel Poole.”

I looked at him more carefully. His veined cheeks, bushy grey eyebrows and fuzzy beard suggested he was Richard’s age. I tried to imagine what he might have looked like twenty years earlier, but no one came to mind.

“I’m afraid I cannot recall having seen you at Thornfield Hall, Mr Poole.”

“I visited my mother on one occasion. You were the governess at that time.”

“Poole?” Could Grace Poole, Bertha’s drunken keeper, be this man’s mother? I was reminded of a grim, unfriendly woman with a prim cap perched on her large head and a coarse, gloomy face, wearing a brown stuff dress and white apron. Mrs Poole had spent most of her time in a low-ceilinged, oaken chamber on the second storey of Thornfield Hall, where she sat and sewed, and drank port, gin, or whatever spirits were available.

I jumped out of my chair at once. “You are Grace Poole’s son?”

“The very same. I was already employed at Grimsby Retreat, but of course, you wouldn’t remember the likes of me. You were too busy enticing the master of the house, weren’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Funny isn’t it, how the wheels of fortune turn unexpectedly? You were a quaint little thing. An ethereal waif, tantalising all the men in sight.”

I trembled in the realisation that he had not come as a friend.

“You wouldn’t have noticed me then, would you? I wasn’t good enough for you, was I? Answer me.” His eyes bulged even more as he leaned towards me.

“I’m afraid I have no recollection of your visit to Thornfield Hall, Mr Poole.”

“Well, it so happens I’m the superintendent at Grimsby Retreat, where you are presently in residence. Your stay here is in my hands. I’ll have you know I’m not a rancorous man at all. I’ll forget how you ignored me and demeaned my mother with your haughty airs, and I am prepared to make your stay here much more pleasant.”

He held out his hand, but I recoiled. “Come, Mrs Mason, don’t be shy. I mean you no harm. Let us take a walk. I want to show you the rest of the retreat.”

I had no choice. I was trapped between a thick wall and a grated window behind me, and a massive man with a repulsive grin before me. He crushed my hand in his fat, sweaty palm.

“Your hand is cold, Jane. Come.” He pulled me towards the door. “You don’t mind if I call you Jane now, do you? I’ll show you to your new rooms. You’ll be much more comfortable there.” 

 I had to run to keep up with his long strides as he dragged me across the main hall and up a winding staircase to another floor.

“These are the best rooms, reserved for our special guests. I also live here with my wife. Fortunately, Mrs Poole is unwell.” He smiled, revealing uneven grey teeth. “She won’t bother us.”

Despite the blazing flames and well-furnished room, I shivered, as if ice water were trickling down my spine.

“You’re cold. Don’t stand in the doorway, Jane. Come inside. This will be your room from now on. I want you to write a list of the food you like to eat, and the clothes and other personal items you’d like to have.”

“Why?” I whispered.

“Isn’t it obvious? I’ll look after you while you’re here and, in return, you’ll be my mistress.”

I held my breath. “Why?” I repeated, trying to make sense of this bizarre situation.

“Because I want you, and I am in a position to have you.”

“I’d like to return to my room, please.” I tried to sound assertive, but my voice was unsteady.

“There is no going back, I’m afraid. You will stay here and oblige me. You’ll find I’m easy to please.” He took my limp hand and pressed it to his mouth. The room swirled like a tornado, sucking me into its twisting eye.

When I woke up, I was in my new bed and the doctor was taking my pulse. “You must eat, Mrs Mason, or you will make yourself ill. Do you want to be force-fed?”

He showed me a long tube and motioned it towards my mouth. I shook my head energetically.

“Then you must eat everything on the tray before Mr Poole returns. There is nothing else physically wrong with you.”

The food on the tray, cheese, cold meat, and fruit, would have looked appealing in any other place, but my lips felt as if they were glued together. I managed to pull them apart to speak to the doctor.

“Could I see my son or Archbishop Templar, please?”

“No visitors are allowed for the moment.”

“When can I have visitors?”

“Perhaps in the spring, when you’re feeling better.”

I asked for a Bible. I was anxious to re-read the Gospel according to St Matthew in the hope that it would give me the strength to endure Poole’s designs on me as our Lord had suffered on the cross. Why had I been forsaken?   

The Bible gave me little comfort. I cried for the wretched treatment I was enduring and wished for a quick death instead of the slow poisoning awaiting me. I remembered Michael’s words. “No one will keep us apart,” he had promised. I closed my eyes and recalled the joyful moments we had experienced a few months earlier.

**** The End of Chapter One ****

Thunder Moon will be priced at $0,99 until 5th November, so grab you copy now!

By the way, did I tell you I’ve gone wide? That means Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall is available at most international retailers find yours by following this link:

Happy Reading!

#WWWBlogs ’10 Lies Edward Rochester told Jane Eyre’

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.’

Lying by [Sam Harris, Annaka Harris]

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

And here are some more posts on Jane Eyre.

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.

And that’s the premise of The Eyre Hall Trilogy.

The Eyre Hall Trilogy

 

 

 

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Bronte #BookReview #Victorian @Audible #Audiobooks

I read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall too many years ago, in my teens, when I read all the Bronte sisters’ novels, but I just couldn’t for the life of me remember much about the story. So, as the version I read, narrated by  Alex Jennings and Jenny Agutter was on Audible Included, which means that as a member, I could listen for free, I decided to have a go at the audio version. I wasn’t surprised when I was hooked immediately, I’ll tell you why right away.  

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall Audiobook By Anne Brontë cover art

From the Blurb

Fleeing a disastrous marriage, Helen Huntingdon retreats to the desolate mansion, Wildfell Hall, with her son, Arthur. There, she makes her living as a painter. Finding it difficult to avoid her neighbors, she is soon an object of speculation and gossip. Brontë portrays Helen’s eloquent struggle for independence at a time when society defined a married woman as her husband’s property.

Before I start my review, I’d like to tell you why I love Audible. I know I’ve told you many times already, but it’s even better now! My monthly credit allows me to buy one audiobook of my choice every month, plus there are daily deals and frequent sales and two for the price of one offers, plus there are loads of free listens in the ‘Included’ catalogue, which has new additions every week, and there are podcasts.

And I love to listen to audiobooks while I work out, go for walks, do the cooking, the laundry, the cleaning, clearing out cubboards, and much more! Here’s more information, in case you’re interested. (By the way, I have no commercial affiliation to Audible, I just wanted to share how great I think it is!) 

My Review

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was easy for me to enjoy. You all know how much I love Victorian Fiction, and as I had completely forgotten about the plot, it was like reading it for the first time. 

It’s a very long, three volume novel, as was the custom of the time. It is over 800 pages and over16 hours of narration time. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the second and final novel by Anne Brontë, the youngest of the Bronte sisters. Her first novel was Agnes Grey, which I only vaguely remember, so I’ll probably be reading it again, soon, too.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was first published in 1848 under the pseudonym of Acton Bell. Although it was very successsful, it was considered the most shocking of the Brontë’s novels, and I can’t imagine why, because the main female character, Helen, is so very pious that she is at times quite nausiating. In fact, I was often furious with her subservient behaviour, especially in the third part of the novel, but more about that in a moment.

The first volume is narrated by Gilbert Markham (by the way, one of my new favourite romance heroes!), who is telling his friend about how he came to meet the Tenant of Wildfell Hall. He was intrigued and fascinated by Helen Graham, a beautiful and aloof, young widow, who moved into the crumbling, old Hall, with her young son, Arthur. They do eventually (very eventually), become friends, but then she becomes the target of local gossip and it is discovered that she is not a widow, because her husband is alive.

The second volume is narrated by Helen, who gives Gilbert all the letters she wrote from when she met her husband to the moment she left him. Here she shows herself to be a devoted wife, who is in love with an unworthy husband, and although she put up with a lot of psychlogical and some physical abuse, she was finally strong-willed and determined enough to abandon him.

This part of the novel certainly gives us a clear insight to the life of the country gentry and servants of the era, as well as the submission of women, even wealthy women, to their husbands,  fathers and religious notions of women’s piety.  I both pitied and admired Helen at this point, because I thought I was going to read a 19th century, #MeToo novel, and I almost did, but as I read the third part I discovered I was wrong. 

This third part, narrated by Gilbert, describes how she returned to her husband and what happens afterwards, but I won’t spoil it for you by telling you how the ending comes about. I will tell you I was exasperated with both Gilbert and Helen, and her brother, but especially with Helen, for being so obstinate and submissive. So, although I did enjoy the ending, I found it was not the feminist novel I had been expecting to read.   

A modern editor would have reduced the novel by half, even I, lover of Victorian literature, was impatient for something to happen and maddened by the going round in circles of the same events, and long drawn out conversations, which did not move the plot forward a single inch! 

There are two major difficulties in reading this type of Victorian fiction, for the modern reader; in the first place the excessive length, verbosity and repetition of certain parts, and on the other hand, the cultural and emotional distance, with contemporary readers. The later makes it hard to understand or sympathize with their passive acceptance of patriarchy, gender differences and medieval attitude to religion, and the former can become frustrating.  

However, there was one aspects that reminded me of contemporary society; harmful and spiteful gossip and blatant lies, which still occurs today, except nowadays it would spread on social media, instead parlours and at sunday service.   

I would recommend the audio version, because it brings the characters and events to life and makes the tedious parts more enjoyable (and you can speed them up!).

I hope I haven’t put you off, because it really is worth reading. The prose flows smoothly and the vocabulary and expressions are gorgeous, and you will be rewarded with an authentic, first-hand glimpse of what life was really like for women, men and children, in Victorian England. 

Have you read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall? What was your impression?

 

 

 

#MothersDay ‘Jane Eyre’s Mother’ #MondayBlogs #CharlotteBronte

Jane Eyre is the most famous female, literary orphan in English literature, but what do we know about Jane Eyre’s mother?

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Surprisingly, for a character who doesn’t appear in the novel and is hardly mentioned, we know a great deal. We know her name and maiden surname, how and we she died, who and why she married, a few things about her family and some significant aspects of her personality.

The first time her mother is mentioned, Jane is at her uncle, Mr Reed’s house. Jane tells the reader:

I could not remember him (Mr Reed); but I knew that he was my own uncle—my mother’s brother— that he had taken me when a parentless infant to his house;

Consequently we know that her mother’s maiden name was Reed and that her husband’s surname was Eyre. We also learn that Jane has no memories of her father, her mother or her uncle, because she was an infant when they died.

Jane also tells us about the effect that the lack of loving parents or relatives affected her personality. Well before Freud identified and shared his theories regarding the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious mind, Jane Eyre was fully that her parents’ absence was affecting her moods and character were due to factors beyond her control, within her psyche.

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Ten year-old Jane tells Mr. Lloyd, an apothecary, called in by Mrs.
Reed when she fainted after being punished and locked in the red room:

I am unhappy,—very unhappy, for other things.’

‘What other things? Can you tell me some of them?’

How much I wished to reply fully to this question! How difficult it was to frame any answer! Children can feel, but they cannot analyse their feelings; and if the analysis is partially effected in thought, they know not how to express the result of the process in words. Fearful, however, of losing this first and only opportunity of  relieving my grief by imparting it, I, after a disturbed pause, contrived to frame a meagre, though, as far as it went, true response.

‘For one thing, I have no father or mother, brothers or sisters.’

Jane describes herself as unhappy because she is missing the family she doesn’t have. A contemporary psychologist might suggest that, as an orphan, Jane was vulnerable and predisposed to physical and psychological risks such as depression and antisocial behaviour, and would probably need counselling. Instead she was plunged into an unloving household, where she was demeaned, neglected and physically and psychologically abused. There could have been many outcomes to her future personality, she could have sunk into disruptive behaviour or swam to the surface as a stronger, fiercely independent, determined and kind person.

There were many real and literary orphans in Victorian Literature. Here’s some more information in two previous posts including information about orphans in Victorian England

Jane Eyre found out about her parents’ death and bad relationship with her maternal grandfather, Mr. Reed, from Bessie, a servant at her aunt’s house. Bessie in turn had learnt this information from another, older servant at the house, Miss Abbot.

“On that same occasion I learned, for the first time, from Miss Abbot’s communications to Bessie, that my father had been a poor clergyman; that my mother had married him against the wishes of her friends, who considered the match beneath her; that my grandfather Reed was so irritated at her disobedience, he cut her off without a shilling; that after my mother and father had been married a year, the latter caught the typhus fever while visiting among the poor of a large manufacturing town where his curacy was situated, and where that disease was then prevalent: that my mother took the infection from him, and both died within a month of each other.”

This passage informs us that her mother married a clergyman for love, against her family’s wishes. Jane was aware that her mother valued love over social convention or economic stability.

Nine years later, while Jane is working at Thornfield, she was called to visit her Aunt Reed, who was on her deathbed. Jane took the opportunity to ask her why her aunt hated her so much.

‘I had a dislike to her (Jane’s) mother always; for she was my husband’s only sister, and a great favourite with him: he opposed the family’s disowning her when she made her low marriage; and when news came of her death, he wept like a simpleton. He would send for the baby; though I entreated him rather to put it out to nurse and pay for its maintenance. I hated it (referring to Jane)  the first time I set my eyes on it…’

Thus Jane learns that her aunt had hated her mother and that she was jealous of her husband’s affection towards the helpless baby.

In summary, we know that Jane Eyre’s mother, Mrs Eyre, née Jane Reed, was beloved by her brother, Jane’s Uncle Reed, who had been a well-to-do magistrate, before his premature death. We also know she was estranged by her parents for marrying a clergyman, Mr Eyre, whom they considered was below her station. We know she married for love, that Jane was born nine months after their marriage and was a three-month old baby when her parents died, a year after marrying. Mrs Jane Reed Eyre died of typhus, a disease contracted by her husband first. We can infer that she was a passionate, independent and determined woman, who was prepared to turn her back on her family and material comforts, in order to marry the man she loved.

It surprises me that Jane only mentioned missing her mother once as a ten-year-old child and never mentioned her mother as an adult. Grown up Jane seemed to have completely wiped her mother out of her thoughts, perhaps because she had no memory or image to cling to. On the other hand, we can imagine her mother’s influence in Jane’s famous quote that she’d rather be happy than dignified. It definitely seemed to have been her mother’s motto too!

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I’d also like to remind you that today, 31st of March, is the anniversary of Charlotte Bronte’s premature death in 1855, at the ge of 38. She was pregnant when she and her unborn child died.

Her death certificate gives the cause of death as tuberculosis, but biographers, including Claire Harman, have suggested that she died from dehydration and malnutrition due to vomiting caused by severe morning sickness. Charlotte Brontë was buried in the family vault in the Church of St Michael and All Angels at Haworth in Yorkshire, UK.

Photo by Dave Green of St Michael and All Angel’s Church, Haworth (Wikipedia).

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P.S. If you haven’t read Jane Eyre, you’re missing out on one of the greatest novels ever written, and it’s almost free on amazon kindle, including the audiobook!

If you have read Jane Eyre, perhaps you’ve wondered what happened after Jane and Rochester married, so have I, that’s why I wrote The Eyre Hall Trilogy, on special offer at the moment.

#CarrotRanch #FlashFiction Challenge ‘Marry me’ #JaneEyre

This is my response to Charli Mills’

March 1: Flash Fiction Challenge

Prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a raven. Respond by March 6, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published March 7). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

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Marry Me, Jane!

‘Soon I shall be a bridegroom,’ said Mr. Rochester.
Jane looked down at her plain, governess dress and remembered Blanche Ingram’s extravagant clothes, noble features and glossy, raven hair.
‘I’ll leave at once. Miss Ingram will have plans for Adele.’
Jane refused to witness the man she loved marry a beautiful, yet unworthy gold-digger.
‘You would have me marry that frivolous woman?’ Rochester shook his head. ‘You think so little of me, Jane? I ask you to pass through life at my side as my best earthly companion.’
Rochester kissed her hand. ‘Jane, say Edward I will marry you.’

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It’s amazing how the mind works. I saw the picture of the raven and thought of Blanche Ingram’s hair! For those of you don’t remember, she was Lord Ingram’s daughter, who Mr. Rochester used to make Jane jealous, tease her and perhaps find out if cool Jane loved him…

I’ve tried to capture the moment Rochester asked Jane to marry him, which is no doubt one of the most dramatic and romantic scenes in the novel. Jane is convinced that he’s going to marry the awful Miss Ingram, but Mr. Rochester recognises gold when he sees it, even if it’s hidden under an ugly dress!

 

3 Days to Launch Midsummer at Eyre Hall. My Writing Process: Intertextuality

I’m relieved, overjoyed and excited to tell you that The Eyre Hall Trilogy is complete.

There are three days to go to the launch of Book 3, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, on the 21st of June, and I’m aiming to write a post a day about my writing process to celebrate my achievement.

Day three is all about Intertextuality.

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Intertextuality is a literary device which creates interrelationship between two or more texts.

The term was coined by Julia Kristeva in the 1960s and has been widely used by poststructuralist and postmodern literary scholars.

The most frequent form is when one book refers to another book’s characters, plot, or scenes.

This reference can be simple or complex. The simple form may reference the title, or a famous character. The complex form may adapt a complete storyline or various characters from another book.

It can be an accidental, subconscious, casual, or deliberate endeavour. It can also be explicit or obvious or implicit, so the reader or scholar will need to delve into the text.

The Eyre Hall Trilogy employs simple and complex forms of intertextuality deliberately and explicitly.

The simple form of intertextuality is employed by most writers. Charlotte Bronte mentions Gulliver’s Travels, The Bible, among other texts in Jane Eyre, for example.

I mention Victorian writers, their works and their characters throughout my trilogy. Some examples are, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, Dr. Watson from Sherlock Holmes by Conan Doyle, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Emily Bronte, among others.

The complex form of intertextuality in The Eyre Hall Trilogy includes the use of many characters and back story from both Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea.

jane_eyre_an_autobiography_by_charlotte_bronte_2370006095781   Product Details

On the other hand the plots and most of the characters in the three novels which make up the trilogy are my own.

Intertextuality can be carried out using any or several of the following literary devices: allusion, quotation, parody, paraphrase, mimesis, expansion, transfer, among others.

The Eyre Hall Trilogy makes use of all of them, there are direct allusions to other works, including quotations. Some of the original characters are parodied. Events which took place in Jane Eyre are paraphrased as back story for the reader. I have also attempted to emulate the literary style, although I have adapted it for a modern audience. The original work is expanded and many events and characters have been transferred.

Many writers borrow ideas from the works they have read. Scholars call this literary sources, and all authors from Shakespeare to Joyce have done so in their works. It’s nothing new, and nothing to be ashamed of.

I wrote another post on sequels, prequels, reinterpretations, rewritings and writing back which explains my intentions in writing a sequel to Jane Eyre.

I also wrote a post on why Jane Eyre needs a sequel on author Shani Struther’s blog earlier this year.

There are plenty of examples of writers using this literary. James Joyce retold The Odyssey in Ulysses. Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, is based on two characters from Hamlet. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys is based on Bertha Mason’s story from Jane Eyre.

The purpose is to modify the readers’ understanding of the primary text by adding another perspective or layer of meaning to the original text leading to a reinterpretation of both texts.

My main aim in writing The Eyre Hall Trilogy was to invite the readers to rethink their opinions of Mr, Rochester, and expose Rochester as the tyrant he was and reinstate his victim, Bertha Mason.

Another aim was to honour the Victorian writers whom I consider my literary Masters, by referencing their works for contemporary readers.

Stevenson, Carroll, Dickens, Wilde, Kipling.

Few readers have never read Jane Eyre or seen a film or television series based on this novel. Most of those who have never done so directly, have heard the story of the poor governess who falls in love with the owner of the house and discovers that his mad wife is locked in his attic.

For those few who have absolutely no idea of who Jane Eyre was, there’s plenty of back story in book 1, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, to help fill in the blanks.

I hope my readers will enjoy a fascinating journey into Victorian England when they read The Eyre Hall Trilogy 

 

20th June, 1837. The Birth of an Era: Victorian Britain

On Tuesday, 20th June 1837, at 6 o’clock in the morning, Princess Victoria was awoken by her mother, the Duchess of Kent, because the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chamberlain wished to see her. She greeted them in her dressing-gown and slippers, and they informed her that her Uncle, King William IV had died a few hours earlier, without any legitimate heirs, therefore, she was to become the Queen of England.

Princess_Victoria_and_Dash_by_George_Hayter

Princess Victoria and Dash by George Hayter

She wrote in her diary:

‘Since it has pleased Providence to place me in this station, I shall do my utmost to fulfill my duty towards my country; I am very young and perhaps in many, though not in all things, inexperienced, but I am sure that very few have more real good-will and more real desire to do what is fit and right than I have.’

Queen Victoria was an avid diarist. You can read more extracts from her diaries, here.

The Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne arrived at nine o’clock with the Declaration which the young Queen was to read to the Council accompanied by her two Uncles, the Dukes of Cumberland and Sussex. Her coronation was held at Westminster Abbey a year later on 28 June 1838.

When Victoria was born at Kensington Palace, in London, on 24 May 1819, nobody would have imagined she would be Queen of England, and Empress of India. She was the only daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent, fourth son of George III, who died shortly after her birth. She became heir to the throne because her three uncles, who were ahead of her in succession, George IV, Frederick Duke of York, and William IV, had no legitimate children.

Industrial and Technological Expansion

Queen Victoria is associated with Britain’s great age of industrial expansion, economic progress and, especially, Empire. At her death, it was said, Britain had a worldwide empire on which the sun never set.

While Queen Victoria’s reign was a time of great material prosperity and economic growth, industrialization and urbanization brought new social difficulties. Urban poverty and the poor treatment of many in the working classes were major results of the newly capitalized and industrialized economy, and political pressures mounted throughout the nineteenth century to address such problems before they amounted to a great crisis.

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The voyage of the Beagle, 1831–1836

The Victorian Era was also a time of tremendous scientific progress and ideas. Darwin took his Voyage of the Beagle, and posited the Theory of Evolution. The Great Exhibition of 1851 took place in London, displaying technical and industrial advances of the age in medicine, science and technology.

Modern psychiatry began with men like Sigmund Feud toward the end of the era, and radical economic theory, developed by Karl Marx and his associates, began a second age of revolution in mid-century. The ideas of Marxism, socialism, feminism gained strength at this time.

Britain’s overseas trading surpassed that of Italy, France and Germany combined, and in 1870 it was nearly four times the size of the American overseas markets, and at home industry was flourishing.

Britain was called “the workshop of the world.” The hard-working and industrious Victorians represented the cutting edge of the Industrial Revolution: the railway, the postal service, telegraph, telephone, steam ships, spinning machines; steam engines, electricity, photography, antiseptic surgery, vaccines, stethoscope, among others.

Reading and Writing in the Victorian Era

In the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, reading had been a privilege available to the upper-class elite. Books were very expensive and most of the population were unable to afford them. Jane Austen’s England of the turn of the century had very little to do with the country in which Charles Dickens lived.

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Charles Dickens by Daniel Maclise

In the 1830s and 1840s a new form of printed text emerged: a lengthy prose fiction serialised in one-penny or two-penny weekly parts. These were usually stories involving adventure or Gothic-like elements. Many had no planned, pre-written end; they just continued until the public were no longer interested in the story. Some penny weekly novels in the 1850s and 1860s were serialized over four or more years.

Reading became less of a privilege of the wealthy and more of a pastime of the common British citizen, as a result, magazines provided monthly installments of news articles, satiric essays, poetry and fiction, enabling many authors to easily share their work with the public, and helped launch the careers of prominent Victorian writers such as Dickens, Eliot, Tennyson, and the Brownings.

Have a look at this list of Victorian authors

I would compare these technological advances and this change in literary market to the present day digital technology, self-publishing industry and Social media.

The Victorians were avid readers of serialized and popular fiction, much as we are readers of ebooks and blogs!

 

Pictures used are in the Public Domain.