I am starting to understand that there are two types of readers: those who love to re-read their favourite books, and those who read books once and then move on. I am firmly in the re-reading camp.
I first read Charlotte Brontë‘s Jane Eyre as a teenager. The classic gothic tale tells the story of Jane Eyre’s sad childhood, her unhappy school years, and her tumultuous relationship with her employer, Mr. Rochester. I always loved the dramatic setting and the unexpected plot twists but my favourite part was the witty repartee between Mr. Rochester and Jane (although I can’t help but find him more manipulative every time I re-read the book.) I keep coming back to Jane Eyre’s story because of the character’s complexity; although Jane appears meek and understated, she is able to stand up to people more powerful than her in order to maintain her sense of self. She is fiercely uncompromising when it comes to her inner core of morality.
Jane Eyre : the graphic novel by Amy Corzine and illustrated by John M. Burns is a fairly faithful adaptation of the the original book, designed to bring classic literature to a young adult audience.
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys was published in 1966 as a prequel to Jane Eyre, and tells the story of Antoinette Mason, a daughter of Dominican slave owners who lost their fortune. When her mother remarries, Antoinette is married off by her step-father to a British man who we gradually understand is Mr. Rochester. He feels duped by his hasty marriage, and is alarmed and alienated by the wildness of the Caribbean. Upon return to England, he locks her up in his attic where she eventually goes mad. Wide Sargasso Sea has become a feminist classic in its own right and is a fascinating counterpoint to Jane Eyre.
There are many other Jane Eyre-inspired books that will definitely never become classics but are nonetheless fun to read! Jane Eyrotica by Karena Rose and Jane Eyre laid bare : the classic novel with an erotic twist by Eve Sinclair are mash-ups that combine Charlotte Bronte’s text with newly written erotic scenes. Rose’s book simply cuts and pastes erotic scenes into the original story, which I found rather alarming and not true to the original character of Jane at all. (Spoiler alert: Jane sleeps with practically everybody.) Sinclair is a little more creative in her attempts to reimagine Jane’s secret sensual life, and includes some rather hilarious plot twists. (Spoiler alert: the mysterious noises in the attic are not what you think they are!)
If you like mash-ups but erotica isn’t your thing, you could check out Jane Slayre by Sherri Browning Erwin, where – you guessed it! – Jane stars as a vampyre/zombie/werewolf slaying heroine. The popularity of Pride and Predjudice and Zombies probably means that we’ll see more of this particular genre in the near future.