I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker
Release date: May 9th, 2017
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction, romance
“Reader, she married me.”
For one hundred seventy years, Edward Fairfax Rochester has stood as one of literature’s most romantic, most complex, and most mysterious heroes. Sometimes haughty, sometimes tender-professing his love for Jane Eyre in one breath and denying it in the next-Mr. Rochester has for generations mesmerized, beguiled, and, yes, baffled fans of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece. But his own story has never been told.
Now, out of Sarah Shoemaker’s rich and vibrant imagination, springs Edward: a vulnerable, brilliant, complicated man whom we first meet as a motherless, lonely little boy roaming the corridors and stable yards of Thornfield Hall. On the morning of Edward’s eighth birthday, his father issues a decree: He is to be sent away to get an education, exiled from Thornfield and all he ever loved. As the determined young Edward begins his journey across England, making friends and enemies along the way, a series of eccentric mentors teach him more than he might have wished about the ways of the men-and women-who will someday be his peers.
But much as he longs to be accepted-and to return to the home where he was born-his father has made clear that Thornfield is reserved for his older brother, Rowland, and that Edward’s inheritance lies instead on the warm, languid shores of faraway Jamaica. That island, however, holds secrets of its own, and not long after his arrival, Edward finds himself entangled in morally dubious business dealings and a passionate, whirlwind love affair with the town’s ravishing heiress, Antoinetta Bertha Mason.
Eventually, after a devastating betrayal, Edward must return to England with his increasingly unstable wife to take over as master of Thornfield. And it is there, on a twilight ride, that he meets the stubborn, plain, young governess who will teach him how to love again.
Jane Eyre has always been one of my favourite books. There’s a darkness to it that I find intriguing. I can’t help but be drawn to the gloomy English moors, the candle lit Thornfield Hall and the raw emotions of the characters. Jane’s resilience and intelligence has also always endeared her to me. I don’t think I have or will ever find another book such as this one. So, being a huge fan of Jane Eyre, I couldn’t wait to read Sarah Shoemaker’s novel Mr. Rochester. It provides readers with Edward Rochester’s backstory, basically what turned him into the jaded, grumpy and changeful character readers find at the start of Jane Eyre.
I wanted to love this book, I really did. I swept aside all of my fears and reservations about it because sometimes it’s really difficult to let go of something you hold so dear. But in the end, this book was not what I was expecting at all. It sadly ended up being a long, drawn-out examination of a life that didn’t reveal anything new.
My main issue with this book was how Mr. Rochester was portrayed. The character here is sentimental, bland…a nice guy who has some rotten luck. THIS ISN’T THE ROCHESTER I KNOW AND LOVE!!!!! In Jane Eyre, Rochester was never, ever bland. He was intense, dark and unknown. A complete mystery to the reader and after finishing this book, I think it would have been better if it was left that way. Sometimes you just shouldn’t mess with something that was already perfect on its own.
I also couldn’t identify with the characters and made no connection with the events that happened in the story. Everything felt distant, like the writing didn’t allow me to fully become consumed with the story. I was reading it, understanding it but in the end there really wasn’t anything that kept me holding on, wanting to turn the page. It felt long, like a lot of work. For me, reading shouldn’t be like that. It should be an escape or at least something that challenges your thoughts and beliefs. This book did neither and that disappointed me.
So, do I recommend this book? Hmmm…go read the classic first. If you did enjoy Jane Eyre then I would give this one a chance. You never know, you may actually find the pacing, descriptions and characterizations to your liking. That’s the things about reviews, everyone has a different opinion. If you have read Mr. Rochester I would really like to know your thoughts!