Mrs Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott

My five Word TL:DR Review : Jane Eyre, a contemporary retelling

MrsRochester'sghost

I enjoyed Mrs Rochester’s Ghost, probably more than I expected given how much I loved the original.  I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily ground breaking but it was easy to engage with and an entertaining read.

In terms of plot, this doesn’t exactly mirror the original, which to be fair I wouldn’t expect given the modern setting, but it does manage to include a lot of references.

Jane, in this retelling, is a young woman whose mother has died recently, she’s lost her job and her relationship has ended badly.  She can no longer afford to rent her flat and so when her cousin gets in touch with an offer of a rent free cottage she has little option but to accept.  Of course, everything is not quite as peachy as first seems to be the case.  Her new employer, Evan Rochester, owns Thorn Bluffs Estate, as well as other property around the world.  Money is not something which he is short of – although he is investing heavily in a new endeavour that places much of his wealth at risk.  Rochester’s wife died recently, drowning in a tragedy that some felt was suspicious and tongues still wag about whether or not he needed his wife’s money.  Evan is a surly man, he doesn’t particularly take to strangers and he only agrees to Jane using the cottage on the condition that she tutors his teenage daughter – but also stays out of his way as much as reasonably possible.

The case/suspicions against Rochester continue, mainly fuelled by his wife’s brother who is convinced of his guilt and is pursuing further evidence.  The locals are also not averse to a bit of gossip and strange occurences at the house, plus the rather veiled stories of the other staff all fuel Jane’s suspicions of what really happened and lead her to start her own cautious investigations.

What I liked about this.  It’s an easy read.  The writing is good, the pacing is fast, the descriptions and backstory are well integrated and there are no cumbersome info dumps.  It’s definitely an entertaining read and one that I had no problem swiftly turning the pages with.

The setting is well done, the author manages to ramp up the gothic appeal with swirling sea mists adding to the atmosphere and rumoured hidden passageways and secret escape tunnels add to the strange eeriness of the place.  Jane’s cottage is also rather creepily remote from the house – beautiful view not withstanding – and the quirky insecurity of the place add to the overall disquiet and make it easy to see why ghostly apparitions are easy to imagine.

The characters.  I think this is one of my main quibbles with the story.  Don’t get me wrong, I did like Jane.  Rochester I felt a little indifferent to and the supporting cast really didn’t make an impression at all.  Then we have the alternate pov chapters told by Rochester’s wife Beatrice.  Beatrice was stunningly beautiful, hauntingly so.  A former supermodel she eventually was forced into early retirement because of her swift temper and mental instability.  I enjoyed her chapters because although she came across as fragile and a little unstable her perspective delivered a version of accounts that cast doubt on the current inhabitants of the bluff – whilst also coming across as unreliable enough to make you jump backwards and forwards between the husband’s stories and the wife’s. However, and this is my first real issue – I didn’t think that Jane or Evan really shared any on page chemistry.  I didn’t buy into their feelings and didn’t really think the relationship came across as credible.  This is a problem because if you don’t buy into the love between these two characters then the retelling is fundamentally flawed imo.  I also struggled to feel any particular emotion towards Evan which makes it difficult to care about him or have any sympathy with regards to his situation, his experiences with his wife or his financial affairs.  I just couldn’t connect to him at all.

The setting.  As I already mentioned.  I liked the setting and thought the author managed to use it to full affect in terms of gothic atmosphere.  However, and this is just a personal whim, I think placing the estate in a coastal setting, and having the wife’s story revolve around drowning – well, it felt like the waters were muddied and I couldn’t help, more often than not, feeling that the author was channelling Daphne DuMaurier as much as Bronte.

I would say that if you’re a fan of Jane Eyre then you probably need to temper your expectations a little and in some respects I think I would have preferred this to be a story that stood on its own merit with original names, places, etc. but, as it is I would say this is an entertaining read that I completed with ease and enjoyed well enough to blast through at a good clip.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3.5 of 5 stars

3 Responses to “Mrs Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott”

  1. Tammy

    I was just thinking this reminded me of a Dumaurier story. It sounds pretty good and hey, sometimes it’s nice to read an easy book😁

  2. pagesandtea

    I was looking forward to your review of this as I already have a copy and was wondering whether it should be nearer to the top of my TBR list 😀
    It does sound like a mix of Bronte and duMaurier (another author I fancy reading more of) and parts of it sound really good, so will have to check it out soon.

  3. jessicabookworm

    I am sorry this paled in comparison to the original, but glad it was still an easy and enjoyable read. 🙂

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