Adele: Jane Eyre's Hidden Story Hardcover – 26 Nov 2002
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'Tennant's story works perfectly, creating a genuine modern sequel to Bronte's tale that's neither a parody nor a cheap imitation.' -- Kirkus
From the Author
I heard from Antonia Fraser (historian, author of Marie Antoinette amongst others): 'I loved ADELE. It's a tremendously good read and beautifully researched - I'm sure it'll do very well both sides of the Atlantic.'See all Product description
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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.
Before I even go into what it's about, I'd say the book is very confused and incoherent. Most of the chapters are from Adèles point of view, like you would expect - it's supposed to be about her, after all. But then some chapters are instead from Rochester's perspective, or even Grace Poole's! What is the point of this?!
The back of the book makes it sound like it's a coherent story, but it isn't. It keeps jumping in time and first, Adèle is in Paris. Then she's at Thornfield. Then she gets chummy with Bertha. Then Jane arrives. Then a few years skip past. And so on, and so on. Things which are major in the original novel just gets brushed over. And that's where we start to encounter the problems this book has. In fact, they start with the introduction, believe it or not. Has Emma Tennant actually read "Jane Eyre"? At all? She could've at least had the courtesy to check with the original to make sure she got some basic facts of it right!
*** BEWARE THE SPOILERS ***
The book begins in France, where Adèle lives with her mother, and they have lots of friends who are very artisty (artisan, even?), and there's this ugly, awful man who comes to see Adèle's mother and then there's an argument between them and a conservatory is smashed. Adèle goes to Thornfield, doesn't like it very much and wishes she was back in Paris or at the Mediterranean villa with her mother and, maybe, her Papa as well, but just maybe; and happens upon a French-speaking woman called Antoinette who lives up in the attics, and becomes a friend.
Meanwhile, Rochester is courting Blanche Ingram, then jump cut to Jane Eyre arriving as a governess and Adèle isn't too impressed by her, but doesn't dislike her very much either. Then Rochester proposes to Jane, which is bad, because how can he not marry her dear mother instead? Whom she has been writing to, but without getting a reply?
Adèle runs off to Paris to reunite with her mother's friends from her childhood, and she doesn't find Céline anywhere. Instead, she finds out that she has a twin brother. (Oh the humanity!) And in the end Rochester (who has followed Adèle to Paris) takes her home and they all live happily ever after, because maybe Céline is dead and long gone and that Jane person isn't so bad after all.
At that point, I was surprised to discover Adèle wasn't the person who set Thornfield alight all those years ago. This book is too similar to the godawful Mrs. Rochester: A Sequel to "Jane Eyre" in places, and they're both good reads, if they weren't trying to use the characters from "Jane Eyre", because that's what's letting both of them down extremely. This is confused, doesn't really have much of a plot rather than for the most part, Adèle whines over not being in Paris. I enjoyed the French parts to a certain degree. They had a nice French texture to them, but it didn't feel particularly suited from a Jane Eyre perspective.
Adèle is a haughty brat whom it's difficult to like, and so much goes against the book that I just couldn't like it. It feels as if the author has been reading "Wide Sargasso Sea" by Jean Rhys with more fervour than she has the original book by Charlotte Brontë, and that's a massive fail, as far as I'm concerned. If you're writing a spin-off get your facts right. And Tennant doesn't.
I might not sound as passionately hateful about this as I did with Hilary Bailey's Mrs. Rochester, but this also classes as a crime of fiction. So I'm afraid it's the attics of Thornfield for you, Tennant, where Grace Poole can give you cold baths for the rest of your duration. This book should not have been written.
(If you want the whole list of blatant errors that kept grating on me, go to the address listed in brackets after my username above to read my full review.)
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