Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010 12:03 am by M. in , ,    3 comments
Our thanks to Janet Mullany for sending us a digital review copy of her book.
Reader, I Married Him
Author: Janet Mullany
Cover Artist: Christine M. Griffin
ISBN: 978-1-60737-562-3
March 23, 2010
Reader, I Married Him is presented as an erotic historic novella who plays with the characters from Jane Eyre. The author herself is quite clear on her website:
My advice, if you really, really love Jane Eyre and consider Jane the archetypal romance heroine–don’t buy this book!
If you find Jane Eyre fascinating and intriguing and you’ve found yourself wondering about the book and its characters (and isn’t that the litmus test of a great novel, that it awakens your imagination and invites you to return?) then buy it. Oh, and having a dirty mind helps.

What Janet Mullany does with her novella is not a Jane Eyre retelling from a sexually charged perspective, her objective is not so ambitious. Part of the success of this little novella comes precisely from its lack of presumption. The story is basically a (wicked) little game which uses the figures of Jane Eyre and Rochester and the Gothic environment of Thornfield Hall in the framework of a big what if using a different outcome to the events preceding Jane and Rochester's wedding. If such a term existed in literature we would gladly define Reader, I Married Him as a sort of Jane Eyre sexploitation.

Janet Mullany does a good work scattering Jane Eyre phrases and expressions around the text(1) creating an adequately erotic and disturbing atmosphere. It is well written and the newly introduced characters (the con artists pretending to be St. John and Diana Rivers) are nicely defined.

Regrettably, the same thing cannot be said about Jane and Rochester. Without unveiling anything about the evolution of their relationship (in the what if timeline) it is not consistent with what we know of the original Brontë characters. Not really a big handicap if the reader has accepted the rules of engagement in sexploitation.

Of course, in such a short novella many of the paths taken are not explored with enough depth(2) and the wealth of nuances is replaced by the sexually-driven dialogues. But let's not forget what the object of a work like this (i.e. an erotic novella) is. Does it achieve its purpose? Well, the answer is yes.

(1) Obviously, the final sentence which fits
nicely with the first one of Jane Eyre, but some others as well. The description of Jane as plain and Quakerish, the picturesque battlements of Thornfield Hall, etc...
(2) Particularly the Lowood events that the faux St John reproduces when he seduces Jane. A game of domination reminiscent of Disciplining Jane (2001).

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  1. Thanks for the great, perceptive review! Glad the novella, uh, served its purpose for you.

  2. Hmmm. Sounds like it would be a fun diversion! I just finished reading a similar novel for Pride and Prejudice titled Really Angelic, which was also something of a what-if too.

  3. Haha, brilliant! I'll have to look into this one (and "Disciplining Jane" - those Amazon reviews made me giggle)! Can't find it on Amazon UK, unfortunately, but I'll have a nosey 'round. (DJ is just under £20 - not really prepared to pay that... at least not for a book that sounds like it's not worth the paper it's printed on!) Thanks for the review! :)