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Biographer Claire Harman was at the British Library in 2011, reading Charlotte Brontë’s letters to her unrequited love interest Constantin Heger, when she realized that this was the pivotal, heartbreaking experience that spurred Brontë to become a published author. It would motivate her to write “Jane Eyre,” an instant hit in 1847 that raised eyebrows with its subversive story of a poor, unattractive governess who considers herself the intellectual—and romantic—equal of her employer. The novel has been in print ever since.New Statesman does something similar in its Easter issue.
This year, for the 200th anniversary of the author’s birth, U.S publishers are releasing books that bring new meaning to Jane’s final, triumphant line: “Reader, I married him.” In addition to Ms. Harman’s biography, the new books include a collection of short stories riffing on Jane’s cri de coeur, and two novel-length adaptations—a literary detective hunt through the pages of the Brontë novels, and a darkly comic recasting in which the governess is a serial killer.
‘Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart,’ March 1. Ms. Harman’s biography describes how the grief-stricken, Protestant Charlotte Brontë stumbled into a Catholic confessional, divulged her secret, and soon began baring her heart to the world. She was desperately in love with Heger, her former professor, who was married to the headmistress of the school where Brontë taught. “It was a secret utterance—the point from which all these other utterances came,” Ms. Harman said. Heger was the mold for Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester: “He’s short and volatile and choleric and funny and smokes a cigar.” [...]
‘The Madwoman Upstairs,’ March 1 [...]
The novel untangles scholars’ differing interpretations of the Brontë novels, and the tantalizing hints the books offer readers about the Brontë sisters’ lives. Who, if anyone, was the real-life model for Mr. Rochester’s imprisoned, mentally ill wife? And was she really mad?
‘Reader, I Married Him,’ March 22. Author Tracy Chevalier has edited a collection of stories that take Jane’s famous line in new directions, ranging from comical to dark and surreal. “That line and Jane Eyre are just so stuck in the minds of so many readers and so many booksellers,” said Rachel Kahan, who acquired the collection for HarperCollins imprint William Morrow. Francine Prose takes readers on a twisty ride, exploring what happens after Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester wed. Helen Dunmore imagines the character Grace Poole’s perspective; Salley Vickers imagines Mr. Rochester’s. And Emma Donoghue writes a piece of historical fiction about a 19th-century clergyman’s wife who wishes she hadn’t married—when she falls in love with another woman.
‘Jane Steele,’ March 22. Reader, she murdered him. In Lyndsay Faye’s gothic retelling of “Jane Eyre,” the heroine is a serial killer with justification for every bloody act. After surviving an abusive cousin and a macabre boarding school, Jane returns incognita to her childhood home—as a governess, what else?—to investigate whether she is the rightful heir. U.S. publisher G.P. Putnam’s Sons has announced a first print run of 75,000. (Jennifer Maloney)
Books: A Charlotte Brontë bicentenary special – Lyndall Gordon reviews a trio of new works on the author; Antonia Quirke recalls the dizzying experience of reading Jane Eyre at a Catholic girls’ school; and “Interesting About E and A” – a new short story by Helen Oyeyemi.And Bustle has also selected some of the books highlighted by the Wall Street Journal above among nine other contemporary books which you'll love if you love Victorian literature.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of a good brain must be in want of a book. From Jane Austen to the Brontë sisters, 19th century literature churned out some powerful women writers. The only downside is that they're not around anymore to keep churning out more top-notch novels.The Spectator comments on the recent radio adaptation of Wide Sargasso Sea.
But don't worry, there's tons of living authors who have taken up the reigns. Jane Eyrehas been especially inspiring authors lately; so many new releases take their own colorful spins on Jane's story, all with varying degrees of darkness. [...]
Some of these books pay direct homage to the classics, while others stand completely on their own. Whether you're looking to bathe in references or find whole new worlds to explore, you'll find yourself at home here. So, all you Brontë fans and Austen-ites make yourself a cuppa and settle in for some excellent new reads.
1. The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell
I shirked so many responsibilities reading this one. Set in the present day, The Madwoman Upstairs will take you on a wild literary treasure hunt, filled with homages to Victorian literature. Years after her father dies in a mysterious fire, the last heir to the Brontë sisters, Samantha Whipple, arrives for her first year at Oxford amid rumors of a secret Brontë inheritance. As she's confronted with a gorgeous professor, a mysterious clue from her father, and the challenges of Oxford University, Samantha dives into the lives and writing of the Brontës to try to untangle her own life's mysteries.
2. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
"Reader, I murdered him." So begins this dark and captivating novel. Inspired by Jane Eyre, a young woman flees an abusive home, killing her tormentors. As she starts a new life, taking a job as a governess at Highgate House (to which she is possibly the heir), Jane gets drawn into a new world of love and secrets, all the while fearing her murderous past will be revealed. This one will have you turning the pages late into the night, for sure. [...]
6. Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre edited by Tracy Chevalier
Some top-notch writers come together in this great anthology to give stories inspired by the famous line from Jane Eyre, "Reader, I married him." Some of my favorites contribute to this collection, including Elizabeth McCracken, Audrey Niffenegger, and Tessa Hadley. Each story has its own flair and its own degree of connection to the original. (Melissa Ragsdale)
Jean Rhys’s novel Wide Sargasso Sea could rather clumsily be described as a prequel to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, conjuring up the life of the mad woman in the attic, Mrs Rochester, before she arrived in England from the West Indies. Yet of course, as only Rhys could achieve, it’s so much more than that, disturbing, spooky, hallucinatory, while creating a story that’s so vivid, so compelling it’s unnervingly believable if always shadowy, the events hinted at rather than fully explained. Radio 4’s dramatisation on Saturday afternoon (by Rebecca Lenkiewicz), with original music by Lucy Rivers and directed by Helen Perry, captured the unsettling atmosphere of Rhys’s novel, creeping insidiously into the mind and refusing to shift, as Antoinette Rochester, the Creole heiress, steadily loses her mind against a backdrop of race riots, domestic violence and bewitchment. (Kate Chisholm)Her Canberra reviews the performances of the shake and stir's production of Wuthering Heights:
Rather than a romanticised version of a doomed love, this is a stark portrayal of destructive obsession in keeping with how shocking the novel was to its original audience. (Heather Wallace)Tidningen Kulturen (Sweden) reviews the Swedish translation of Ann Dinsdale's The Brontës at Haworth.
Under de drygt hundrafemtio år som passerat efter Patricks Brontës död har många böcker skrivits om hans döttrars liv och verk. En av de senaste i raden är Anne Dinsdales kunniga och vackert illustrerade Systrarna Brontës värld. Anne Dinsdale är chef för samlingarna på Brontë Parsonage i Haworth och hon är en av Storbritanniens främsta auktoriteter på familjen Brontë, deras värld och den tid de växte upp och levde i. Detta blir mycket märkbart i denna fantastiska bok som nu översatts till svenska av Anna-Karin Malmström Ehrling och Per Ove Ehrling från bokförlaget Angria.The travel section on the BT website has an article on a trip to Haworth.
Systrarna Brontës värld innehåller i stort sett allt en intresserad läsare behöver veta om hela familjen Brontës bakgrund, uppväxtmiljö, liv, död och skapande. Den kompletteras med en inledande kronologi från och med 1777, då Patrick Brontë föddes på Irland, fram till 1928 då prästgården i Haworth öppnades för allmänheten.
Fotografen Simon Ward har mer än bidragit till bokens höga kvalité med helt underbara fotografier av allt som berör Brontës: bilder av familjemedlemmarna, gamla manuskript, brev, med mera, och framför allt av det storslagna landskap som omgav systrarna Brontë och som influerade deras numera klassiska romaner. Den här mycket färgstarka och informativa boken i coffee-table format känns definitivt som någonting varje dedikerad Brontë-entusiast kommer att sätta högst upp på sin önskelista. En snygg blivande klassiker inom sin genre! (Elisabeth Brännström) (Translation)
Strolling along Haworth's main street, I stop every few metres for a photograph of the quaint stone shopfronts and postcard-worthy views over the Yorkshire moors. I find it hard to imagine the village was once a crowded industrial town and a cesspool of death and disease during the early 19th century period, when English literature's great Brontë sisters lived here. [...]The Huffington Post considers that 'Our Cities Need a Fem-Over'.
The Parsonage illustrates a picture of three women who resisted social convention and expectation to realise their unbridled ambitions. It is 200 years since Charlotte was born, and a special exhibition curated by author Tracy Chevalier aims to further explore that contrast between her constrained life and furious determination.
Some of Charlotte's books and toys are on display, along with examples of her writing and coded letters which scholars believe were attempts by the sisters to disguise their - often outrageous for the times - work. [...]
Top Withens in the nearby moors is believed to have inspired Wuthering Heights, although Emily's descriptions are of a much larger farmhouse than the small stone ruins that remain today.
The walk up there is as enjoyable and atmospheric as it would have been in the mid-1800s, though. Many people congregate around Brontë Falls, a mile from Haworth, where the sisters would picnic during the summer months.
Although sadness and difficulty ultimately helped shape the Brontë's [sic] timeless novels, I take solace in the fact they were able to enjoy some happy times in their lives. (Nichola McAvaney)
In the words of historian Mary Beard, "every woman who wants to make an impact on the way this country is run, from the House of Commons to the pub quiz, has Mary Wollstonecraft to thank."PopMatters looks into why 'Women Are Choosing Virtual Boyfriends Over Real Ones' inspired by a recent article from Vogue magazine written by Pip Usher.
Personally, I took inspiration from the fearless travels in her madcap treasure-hunt, which I retraced while writing In Search of Mary. It was a Wollstonecraft roller-coaster, the trip of a lifetime. And yet despite her legacy and her enormous life (her status as Frankenstein's grandmother is the least of it) Mary Wollstonecraft has no significant memorial anywhere.
But why stop there? It's clear that our campaign chimes with wider calls for effigy equality. Others are looking beyond those martial heroes on horseback, for a more diverse representation of history. Now that Wollstonecraft's in our grasp, why not Emily Brontë, Shirley Bassey, Sylvia Pankhurst, Helen Sharman? The list goes on. (Bee Rowlatt)
Usher follows these observations from Arroyo with ones made by Kentaro Kitajima, vice president of Voltage, publisher of the dating sim Star-Crossed Myth:Slate + is giving away a copy of Jane Eyre. Librópatas (Spain) suggests several magnets that belong in any book lovers' fridge, including one of Charlotte Brontë. Rambling Writer posts about Jane Eyre. Through the Shattered Lens reviews Wuthering Heights 1939 and 52 Shades of Film does the sme with Wuthering Heights 2011.
Kitajima agrees, citing a “sadistic but charismatic” archetype popular among women worldwide. In real life, Kitajima says, there may be an incentive to avoid this type as a boyfriend or husband, but in the gaming world, the characters provide an outlet for women to tap into their romantic imagination. Fantasies can be explored without consequence.In other words, at least in my mind, the type of man that these companies are describing as popular to their audience is Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, the character that I am most likely to think of when hearing the description “sadistic but charismatic” in the context of the traditions of the romance novel. The character that is being described here is the same one that is common to popular romance novels as well. This is the male protagonist of the Harlequin romance novel. (G. Christopher Williams)