Welcome again to Bookworm Wednesdays! This time, a fellow blogger kindly (Luccia from Rereading Jane Eyre) asked me whether I were inclined to read her novel, and maybe also to review it after reading. And indeed, I was.
(secretly totally freaking out – how exciting – being asked to write a review – WOW!!!)
It took me some time from finishing the book to finishing this review, but here we finally are…
In this Victorian Gothic Romance, the reader is reunited with a well-known heroine from literature, Jane Eyre. You sure remember her, from the famous novel written by Charlotte Brontë? If not, it’s about time you get acquainted. Seriously, it’s a classic you shouldn’t miss out on (also, if you haven’t tackled Jane Austen yet either, get going!). And the sequel is just as good!
In “All Hallows at Eyre Hall”, we meet Jane again about 20+ years after her marriage to Edward Rochester. Living in Eyre Hall (the “new” house after Edward’s crazy first wife burnt down the former Thornfield Hall) now, we enter the scene just in time for an 1860’s All Hallows (aka “Halloween”, just with absolutely no princesses from ‘Frozen’ and the likes). Jane is an adult woman in her early forties, and trying to get to terms with the imminent death of her husband (who is sick for a very good reason, and should be sorry for a lot of things he did and hid between then and now). Their relationship has evolved quite a bit since being madly in love, and the reader gets to know a little more about the history of their marriage the further we advance in the book. We meet their son, and other members of the household like Edward’s illegitimate daughter, a number of servants, and more. In other news, Richard Mason is back (the brother of the aforementioned crazy first wife) with a big “surprise”, revealing secrets of the past that have to be dealt with in the future. I don’t want to give too much away, but get ready for some twists and turns along the way!
While the original novel, following Jane from childhood into early adulthood, was a first-person narrative, “All Hallows” has multiple narrators that lend to the richness of the narrative and shed light on the events unfolding, not only seen through different eyes, but also taking into account the different backgrounds these narrators come from. It reflects well the intricacy of society in the late 1800’s where everyone had his / her place and when it was better to stay in that place and not to overstep your bounds.
And there a lot of bounds to overstep… not only from “bottom to top”, but also “top to bottom”. Jane for example discovers love (again), real and passionate and honest (and believe me, at this point in the story also you will wish for more happiness in her life!). But it’s not waiting for her where she expects it nor where it might be decent and proper, so of course this discovery entails complications (and maybe even a little heartbreak).
Setting, plot and characters are well constructed, catapulting you right back into the world initially created / described by Charlotte Brontë. And the language… well, in my opinion the author did a great job here too, reflecting how it must have been back then. I must admit that for some characters, it was so unique, authentic and befitting, that I took an instant dislike to them (mischievous creatures, some of the characters!) because I could hear them talking in my head…
You can see, feel and read that Luccia Gray feels deeply connected to the era, and has a lot of love and (com)passion for her characters and the settings – everything is well built, and very atmospheric. It translates into a dense plot that is masterfully constructed and fun to read. I am not sure whether I would call this book an easy read or not, but once you get acquainted with the storyline, the dynamic of the story kind of sucks you in and you want to know how it ends. While reading, I also found that I could well relate to some of the characters (the ones I liked, mostly 🙂 ), and it made me laugh with them and cry with them, and take some of the other characters and just shake them until they come to their senses…
That being said (read it!), it seems it be the first part of a trilogy, and I definitely can say that I am waiting for parts 2 and 3!
Thank you, Luccia!
If you are interested in a little more background information: Fellow blogger Ronovan talked to Luccia about her novel, resulting in a very interesting Q&A that you can read here.
On my nightstand:
All Hallows at Eyre Hall, written by Luccia Gray, available as kindle book on Amazon.