Reader, we all know how we feel about Jane Eyre. We also know how we feel about that fateful sentence: Reader, I married him. This collection of 21 stories, created to celebrate Charlotte Bronte’s 200th birthday in 2016 and written by an all-female team of authors, all have strong feelings on the matter as well, and these stories run the gamut from the reverent to the satirical.
This collection is a jewelry box in your grandmother’s attic full of treasure and cheap pieces alike, and they are all enjoyable. There are pieces narrated by characters within Jane Eyre (Mrs. Reed, Helen Burns, Bertha, and Grace Pool all make memorable appearances), pieces written in the same period, pieces written with referential plots, and some pieces were written by authors who had no attachment to the original tale at all! Some of the tales lean on biographical details of fascinating women of the age, and some create women and stories whole cloth.
Mr. Rochester is the specter in the attic this time. He holds little stake when he does appear in these stories, and all of the power comes from within the women on the pages. There may be some complaint as to the lack of his presence, and there is always some scuffling of what Jane really means and who she is intended to represent, but I believe Charlotte Bronte said it best herself within the pages of her masterpiece:
“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”