Hello Lovelies! Please excuse our dust while we do a bit of construction on the blog. We will still be posting exciting reviews, brilliant guest posts, and exciting giveaways but we are in the process of transforming the blog and adding new content and features for you to enjoy.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Other Wife by Juliet Bell

Title:  The Other Wife
Author: Juliet Bell
Publisher: 2nd November 2018 by HQ Digital
Pages: 384 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: romance, retellings, contemporary
My Rating: 2.5 crowns

Outback Australia, 1981
After a terrible childhood, Jane comes to Thornfield as nanny to the adorable Adele, watched over by the handsome and enigmatic Edward. Plain and inexperienced, Jane would never dream of being more than his hired help. But swept up in the dramatic beauty of the Outback, she finds herself drawn to Edward. And, to her surprise, he seems to return her feelings.
But Jane is not the first woman Edward has pledged to make mistress of Thornfield.
As a child, Betty was taken from her English home and sent for adoption in Australia. At first, no-one wanted her, deeming her hair too curly, and her skin too dark. Until the scheming Mr Mason sees a chance to use Betty to cement a relationship with the rich and powerful Rochester dynasty…
When Jane discovers Betty’s fate, will she still want to be the next Mrs Rochester?

My Thoughts

I am a Bronte fan, so this combined modern adaptation/retelling looked inviting. To place a Jane Eyre type character in outback Australia 1980s sounded a clever undertaking. So whilst it is not necessary to have read Bronte’s original, it does make for a more engaging comparison to be made. Despite what would be obvious necessary changes, it would be intriguing to see how this fateful tale would unfold in new contemporary rural circumstances.

Told through the viewpoints of both Jane and Betty (aka Bertha), Bell provides the reader with significant background details of both women. Both stories contain great sadness with childhoods filled with abandonment and therefore, some understanding of the present day woman current in the narrative, becomes clear. My first problem here is that, I never felt I fully understood, or was provided, with the reasons for Betty’s anxiety/madness. Innuendo was insufficient for me to appreciate this crucial factor and combine that with her obvious lucid moments, I often found myself confused.

‘Edward thought she was mad. Grace thought she was mad.’

Then there is Rochester. Never ever could he be viewed as likable from the original, but here he was absolutely despicable. Not much more to say but a really unlikeable character from beginning to end. I liked that ‘Thornfield’ was in remote outback Australia - but was that because it fit nicely as a modern adaptation? I don’t have a problem with adaptations veering from the original and although many of the incidences could be likened, there were just as many that were different. Especially the ending.

What I did struggle with was the overall theme of terrible male characters and the use of sex as power in a wide range of scenarios and rather fanatically. I hated the silly quips such as, ‘Maybe the father will fall in love with me and ask me to marry him, like in The Sound of Music’ - good grief! Finally, to be honest, I did not enjoy the writing style - rather disjointed at times which may be the result of me learning that the author, Juliet Bell, is in fact the collaborative pen name of authors Janet Gover and Alison May.

‘We are of this land. We know how to wait. We should go on strike like the Gurindji.’ ‘How long do we wait? It took ’em ten years at Wave Hill.’

I held such hope for this tale as I truly believed that they had all the components necessary to write a really good adaptation. Sadly, it totally missed the mark for me as key points just did not add up.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

No comments: