Jane Eyre's Daughter, by Elizabeth Newark

The front cover of Elizabeth Newark's novel Jane Eyre's Daughter features a blurb announcing that this is “A Superb Tale for Lovers of the Brontë Classic”. That's not a promotional quote from a reviewer, mind you—it came straight from the publishers, who, sadly, are somewhat overstating their case.

Newark's heroine is Janet Rochester, the teenage daughter of Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. Shortly after the story opens, Janet's parents—still passionately devoted to one another after more than twenty years of marriage—embark on a lengthy sea voyage, originally leaving their daughter at an elegant finishing school, and later in the care of a pair of elderly guardians. Janet, who is fond of her mother and almost creepily attached to her father, misses them profoundly, particularly when she moves into her guardian's home in Yorkshire and finds herself floundering through a tangle of gothic-novel clichés: mysteriously locked doors, furtive, half-heard conversations in the dead of night, and romantic advances from brooding men with questionable motivations.

So far, so good, right? Jane Eyre's Daughter is competently written, plausibly historical in tone, and blessed with a level-headed, independent heroine. Plus, Brontë fans love secrets and locked doors and broody dudes! Unfortunately, several of Newark's plot points hinge on sexual dynamics that range from eyebrow-raising to straight-up gross. Her story features incest, sexual coercion, and—SPOILER—a happily-ever-after ending between Janet and her dream man: a guy who resembles her father so strongly that she originally confuses the two. (Seriously.) I'm only mildly fond of Jane Eyre, but I'll do more hardcore “Lovers of the Brontë Classic” the justice of assuming that stomach-churning sexual vibes probably wasn't what they were looking for in a continuation.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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