Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Review: Reader, I Married Him

Reader, I Married Him
Edited by Tracey Chevalier
paperback, 304 pages
William Morrow
a review copy of this book was provided through TLC Book Tours

     Reader, I Married Him has everything I love in a book. Let's start with the premise: the title for this short story anthology comes from Charlotte Bronte's classic novel, Jane Eyre. This is like saying the premise for the collection is a line from a letter written by a beloved friend. Edited by Tracey Chevalier (Girl with a Pearl Earring), Reader, I Married Him is comprised of twenty-one stories by widely varied and wildly talented women writers. Each story uses Jane Eyre (and this famous sentence from the novel) as a starting point, but the stories range from close variations on the original novel to barely connected spin-offs.

     Amazingly, there is not one inferior story in the whole bunch.

     Helen Dunmore retells Jane's story from the point of view of Grace Poole, characterizing the small, plain governess as "a snowdrop pushing its way out of the bare earth." Grace Poole's secrets give the reader and entirely different perspective on Mr. Rochester.

     In "Since First I Saw Your Face," Emma Donoghue turns to historical fiction to comment on the bonds of marriage and the passions of female friendship. This beautiful story tells of a passionate and loving relationship between two women, one of them married. And in "To Hold," by Joanna Briscoe, a woman marries, more than once, all the while maintaining a secret and fevered love affair with a female colleague.

     The writer's in this volume are all at the top of their game, and are some of the most admired literary authors--with plenty of variety of style, tone, and approach. The collection includes stories by Tessa Hadley, Jane Gardam, Tracey Chevalier, Lionel Shriver, Francine Prose, Evie Wyld, and Audry Niffenegger, among others. Each story in some way comments on or connects to Jane Eyre and the confiding statement: Reader, I married him.

     I would recommend this book to any reader, whether or not she has read Jane Eyre. Reader, I Married Him could be enjoyed by any reader, but I suspect this collection will spark an interest in reading (or rereading) Charlotte Bronte's riveting and original classic.


bermudaonion said...

Wow, you've made this sound like an amazing short story collection!

Unknown said...

I've seen this at the library, but I hadn't bothered to look at who the contributors were. Now I'm definitely curious. Thanks for your review!

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

"there is not one inferior story in the whole bunch." Now THAT is saying quite a lot! I'm so looking forward to reading this one - Jane Eyre is one of my all time favorite books.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

Judith said...

What a fascinating collection of stories, and such an interesting theme. I'll seek it out. I have read Jane Eyre multiple times, at different ages, and there's more to discover in its pages each time. Greatness personified.
Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

Terra said...

This sounds like an impressive collection with not a lemon in the group.

Anne@HeadFullofBooks said...

A few years ago I read a similar collection of short stories but based on Jane Austen, called Dancing with Mr. Darcy. I took it with me on a European vacation and found that reading short stories on the road was perfect for me and my shorter attention span. I will definitely look for this one for my next extended vacation. Thanks for visiting my blog today and have a wonderful break. Are you staying put also, what are your plans for the week?

bibliophiliac said...

@bermudaonion-I loved it!

bibliophiliac said...

@RachelReads-Totally top notch writers....a great collection.

bibliophiliac said...

@Judith-I love Jane Eyre and I'm about to read it again (4th time? I think...)

bibliophiliac said...

@Terra-I loved it. The Eyre connection was one reason, but also the stories were all just so well written....

bibliophiliac said...

@Anne Bennett-I'm staying home, but I live on a resort island, so that's not so bad! Going to try to find a balance between doing stuff and resting. Also, grading and planning (trying to catch up!).