September 3, 2020

Mr. Rochester: A Rambling Review

Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

I enjoyed this glimpse into Rochester's mindset and retelling of the classic from his perspective. We get a lot of backstory that makes his character more sympathetic, while not feeling out of place with what Charlotte Bronte gave her readers in the original. I do think that the first part of the story, detailing his childhood and young adulthood (before he meets Jane Eyre) was more interesting (if slow-moving), since we are already familiar with what happens once he and Jane cross paths. Perhaps because of this, the author doesn't go into that much detail about their interactions, which left their romance and Rochester's emotional development feeling like it lacked something; I didn't connect with it the same way I connected with the original.

While Sarah Shoemaker sticks quite closely to Bronte's story, there is one subplot that is new. I don't think it clashes with the original, although in the end I'm not sure how much it adds (spoilers, highlight to read: the storyline involving Gerald Rochester... in the end he dies along with Bertha, and all of his scheming comes to nothing). I do like, however, that it provides more explanation for events in the original story that were not accounted for (spoilers: it makes sense that Rowland might have taken advantage of Bertha and then refused to marry her, and that Edward would have been offered up to marry her instead).

For those people who don't understand the appeal of Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, I would highly recommend you pick this book up! And for those who love him already, you will probably enjoy getting to spend some time with this character during his most formative years.

4 shooting stars.

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