Book: Thornfield Hall
Author: Emma Tennant
Like/Don't Like: Wretched
Someone must have given this to me because in general if I'm going to pick up a knock-off of a classic (particularly of one I know so well as I do Jane Eyre) it has to come highly recommended. But this has been sitting in my stack of to-be-read books for a very long time and I thought, oh, why not, and dove in.
I'll tell you why not. It was rubbish.
I love Jane Eyre. If I believed in such things it would easily find a spot in my top 10. So I'm a little biased. But I think even people who haven't read the book would find this unbearable. In it we get the point of view of Adele, along with a bit of Mr. Rochester and Mrs. Fairfax. There were some serious flaws in the writing. Continuity, for one. I am a stickler for these sorts of things so I noticed right away when it says it is "nearly full dark outside" and then what is supposed to be a few hours later "turning dusk." There were things like this riddled throughout. Then there was the constant saying of names. Does this bother anyone else? Adele was always saying, "My mother, the celebrated actress, Celine Varens." like on every other page, even deep into the story, when we KNOW that she was her mother. And Mrs. Fairfax was always saying, "While working at that magnificent estate, Thornfield Hall under the watchful eye of my master, Mr. Edward Fairfax Rochester." Yes, we know all of this! And there was too much use of the old bait and switch. A revelation would nearly be made but first you have to read through two pages of a flashback before getting to it. It was frustrating.
But I suppose all of those can be chalked up to my own pet peeves. So how about I give you some highlights of the story since I know you're not going to read it (because you trust me, right)(warning: these may come as a shock to those who know Jane Eyre): Adele becomes best friends with Bertha, Mr. Rochester's mad wife up in the attic; she hates Jane; she has a twin brother who was born just minutes before her but who has a different father (they were conceived on the same day but by two different men) but who is only briefly mentioned at the end of the book as an "oh, and by the way"; her mother (the celebrated actress Celine Varens, in case you have forgotten) didn't die but went off to Italy with a musician; and how about this one - Bertha didn't fall from the rooftop in the fire, that was Grace Poole. Mrs. Fairfax killed her much earlier, slipped Adele a mickey in order to convince her that she was the one who killed her, and later told all as she dangled a very pregnant Jane out of a window like she was some sort of Scooby-doo villain. Then, realizing that the jig was up she lights the place on fire and throws herself out the window. What the H?!
To top it all off, just three short paragraphs after all of this goes down, the phrase "and they lived happily ever after" is actually used and the book ends with a brief explanation of how Adele went on to become a celebrated actress, like her mother, Celine Varens.
I once caught a glimpse of a show about Anne of Green Gables the Much Later Years where Gilbert had died and Anne was hooking up with some guy named Gene. It was blaspheme. This felt the same way. I could not shake the sour look off of my face for a good half hour after finishing.