Book Review: Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

mr-rochesterA gorgeous, deft literary retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s beloved Jane Eyre–through the eyes of the dashing, mysterious Mr. Rochester himself.

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My Thoughts:

The Bronte sisters have always been a bit of a fascination to me since my late teens. Charlotte in particular after reading Jane Eyre for the first time so many years ago. There is also the fact that 19th Century Gothic Classics tend to be my forte-if you will. Charlotte’s Jane Eyre evokes those Gothic themes many readers love. One can’t be help be drawn to the gloominess and the elements of the English moors, the troubling events unfolding, or the hauntingly beautiful and mysterious Thornfield Hall. The raw emotions of romance, madness, and tortured feelings brings you even closer to the realization of a person’s soul.

After having read Jane Eyre several times over the years I still wondered about so many things. When Mr. Rochester came along I was hoping some of those things would be answered. Like what was Edward Rochester life like as a child and young adult and how did his upbringing shape him into the man we see in Jane Eyre? I wanted to further explore the relationship between Bertha Mason and Rochester. I firmly believe her story of insanity and wretchedness plays a pivotal role in the outcome of Jane Eyre. Does Shoemaker give the reader a better understanding of those important details in her story, Mr. Rochester? What is it convincing enough?

The story starts with Edward Rochester’s early life at Thornfield Hall. Though it is not expanded on, Edward’s mother died giving birth to him, his father indifference to him and his brother’s unkindness shows his childhood was lonely and neglected at best. At least that is what I got from the brief telling of it. As he got a little older he was entrusted to the care of Mr. Lincoln for his education until the age of thirteen when his father felt he was old enough to learn more of the world. Mr. John Wilson of Maysbeck then took him under his care and Edward soon discovers the education he was to receive from Wilson was not what he thought. You see, Edwards father had plans for him that was not the tradition route for a second son during the era and his class. From there things did get rather interesting at times but I felt Edwards characterization could have been stronger. I don’t feel you get to really know him and it seems like he is doing more telling of his surroundings and what everyone’s else is doing. As he got older and I read about his relationship with Bertha Mason and Jane Eyre, I felt disjointed with the portrayal Shoemakers gives. His upbringing in this story did not convince me of why he became the man he was in Jane Eyre.

There were a lot of miss opportunities in this story. The scenes and Edward’s interaction with the characters didn’t exactly drive the plot and left me feeling dissatisfied with the overall story.

I am not sure I would readily recommend this story to my fellow enthusiasts of the classics. Having said that, I applauded Shoemakers’ efforts in creating Rochester’s early life and despite my shrewd analysis above I respect the authors’ endeavor.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

*I obtained a copy of this book from the Publishers through NetGalley for an honest review*

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