(also called Thornfield Hall: Jane Eyre's Hidden Story)
by Emma Tennant
Plot Summary:The daughter of a celebrated Parisian actress, Adele is a homesick, forlorn eight-year-old when first brought to Thornfield Hall by Edward Fairfax Rochester, her mother's former lover. Lonely and ill at ease in the unfamiliar English countryside, she longs to return to the glitter of Paris ... and to the mother who has been lost to her. But a small ray of sunshine brightens her eternal gloom when a stranger arrives to care for her: a serious yet intensely loving young governess named Jane Eyre.
As time passes, Adele watches with wonder as an unexpected romance blossoms between her governess and her guardian -- even as her curiosity leads her deeper into the shadowy manor, toward the dark and terrible secret that is locked away in a high garret. And on Jane and Rochester's wedding day, it is Adele who brings about the fiery catastrophe that will shatter her "family" and send her fleeing, frightened and alone, back to Paris.
Review:Jane Eyre's hidden story, this is not, as most of the events in this book are pretty ludicrous and unrealistic and it's highly unlikely this is what happened behind the scenes. Adele says it rightly at one point in the novel when she remarks that Jane is the one who sees things clearly. The novel is not totally from Adele's point of view, though, often a chapter is devoted to Grace, Mr. Rochester's, or Mrs. Fairfax's thoughts, and it was difficult to decide what was really happening with the characters with so many different viewpoints. Mrs. Fairfax for example thinks Mr. Rochester is really in love with Blanche and wanted to marry her instead of Jane, Adele thinks Mr. Rochester still loves Celine and would want her to come back, Mr. Rochester doesn't help by seeming to think about Celine often before and somewhat after he meets Jane. Grace is just in it for herself and is probably the most honest character in this story.
This story just felt confusing and all over the place, and although at first I thought it was an interesting idea to tell the story from Adele's viewpoint, reading this story I realized she was really too young and couldn't have known much about what was happening. And her thoughts do not lend any cohesiveness to the story because she vacillates in her feelings so much. The author did have some interesting ideas and changes to the story of what went on behind Jane's back, and I did like how Adele grows as a character and realizes what a positive influence Jane has been on her life. The tone of the characters was also pretty well done - I didn't have too much of a problem with how the author painted them. The ending however kind of ruined the half-regard I was having for this story though. There was a pretty over the top twist that was truly unbelievable and ridiculous and disappointing since the story seemed headed towards a nice conclusion until it made a complete u-turn for crazy town. This is such an uneven story, that I can only think that die-hard Jane Eyre fans that need to read everything related to the original novel (like myself) would find any reason to read it.
Tenth and last book for the 2012 Books of Eyre Reading Challenge
(Yay I made it!)