18 April, 2016 by katelaity
Here’s me with my favourite copy of Jane Eyre illustrated by the fabulous Dame Darcy. I think I might have read the Oxford Classics version first, but I love this edition with all the gothic imagery. People around the world are sharing how much they love this book with the #JaneAndMe hashtag for the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth. Jane fired up many a plain and poor girl with encouragement to follow their own paths.
You can also see Airships & Alchemy up at the top. I haven’t made enough of the fact, I suspect, that the heroine of my novel is meant to be Jane’s daughter. I figured she would name her own girl after her best friend to give new life to that tragic memory. Helen Rochester has every bit of Jane’s confidence, but she didn’t have her struggles of poverty and cruelty. But being Jane’s daughter she refuses to accept the diminished role women were expected to reduce themselves to in the 19th century.
I didn’t plan for her father to have such a big role in the story — here’s where writing a novel serially can lead to all kinds of surprises — but he wouldn’t leave. And it seemed entirely proper for a young woman to be chaperoned on an international journey. I always saw him as played by Toby Stephens, my favourite Rochester, which certainly made it fun to write.
People — especially those who do not like the novel — tend to speak of Rochester as a Byronic hero. That erases his transformation in the course of the novel. He makes many grievous errors and eventually suffers for them once Jane leaves him. Only when he is brought low — alone, suffering and seemingly friendless — can he truly love Jane and she him. It’s a moral tale. Brontë knew all too well that it was a fiction, but how much it must have cheered her to have Jane’s passion earned and rewarded.
I hope Helen honours Brontë’s genius. If you want to see for yourself, I am giving away four copies on Amazon. Sign up for a chance to win a copy* in honour of Charlotte’s birthday. Here’s to the next 200 years!