The stories collected here range from those which are directly related to the original, Grace Poole's take on Jane in Helen Dunmore's story or Francine Prose's former governess in couples counseling who starts to wonder at so the medical professionals' interest in her own "delusions," to those which are updated and set in modern times but still clearly inspired versions, the neighbors in Lionel Shriver's tale of an invasive tree or Audrey Niggenegger's orphans. There are some stories where the connection to the original Bronte is difficult to tease out, perhaps finding inspiration in the less well known scenes of the novel. The main characters of the modern stories are very different and more diverse than in the original. The relationships depicted run the gamut from conventionally traditional to antagonistic, contentious, or resigned. They include same sex couples, heroines making choices quite opposite of Jane's, and those who invert the power structure of the original work. If the stories didn't always hew closely to Jane Eyre's story line, they each certainly tackled the larger themes at play in the original: love, dependence and independence, loneliness, marriage, the power of choice, and relationships.
Some of the stories resonated more with me than others but that is to be expected in a large collection that offers so many different takes, so many different styles, and so many different authors. The tone of the stories varies wildly with some being more Gothic and threatening than others . A few do suggest happy endings but quite a few others promise a trapped, almost claustrophobic feeling in the end, something that my ten year old self never noticed and which my older self tries to pretend isn't there (it is) in the superficially happily ever after ending of the original. This collection has an intriguing and inventive multitude of ways of looking at Jane Eyre which most Bronte fans will enjoy as long as they aren't only looking for retellings that stick faithfully to the original but want tales that allow for creative exploration and unusual takes on their much beloved novel.
For more information about the book and the authors included in it, check out the book's Good Reads page, follow the rest of the blog tour and TLC page which contains links to all the authors' information, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.
Thanks to the publisher and Trish from TLC Book Tours.