Title: Mr. Rochester
Author: Sarah Shoemaker
Format: eBook, courtesy of NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing
Start Date: May 11, 2017
End Date: May 18, 2017
Rating: 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4 stars)
What was I? […] most days I felt like a boy still, trying to give the appearance of a man, capable and dependable – and terrified of being found out. I was convinced I was the only young man in all the world who felt like a charlatan.
Before diving into Sarah Shoemaker’s debut novel, I first revisited Charlotte Brontë’s timeless classic, Jane Eyre, which I rated 4.5 stars. You can find the full review in a previous post or by clicking here.
As the title implies, Mr. Rochester tells the story of Mr. Edward Fairfax Rochester, Jane’s master and eventual husband. We follow young Edward from boyhood to adulthood under his father’s orders. Much like Jane’s narrative, Edward’s is a bildungsroman, split into three parts: he goes to school with several other boys, he learns to run a worsted mill (book one), all culminating in his business prospects in Jamaica and marriage to the beautiful Miss Bertha Antoinetta Mason (book two), followed by his eventual return to his childhood home, Thornfield Hall (book three).
I had not known it as a child, but now I did: there had never been another home for me, only way stations on a homeward journey that I had somehow always dreamed of making.
After coming back to Thornfield Hall after the death of both his brother and father leave him master, he seeks to conceal his union with the unstable Bertha, instead choosing to traverse abroad to seek out the finer comforts in life.
Then comes Adèle, then Jane, and we know the rest.
This book feels a bit like pulling back the curtains to reveal the man hiding backstage. I thought this book gave an interesting additional perspective to the enigmatic Mr. Rochester. By giving him a voice and delving into his backstory, we get to know more about his character, his motives, and his dreams.
I quite enjoyed this book. The writing was good and the tone felt almost authentically Victorian. Both novels have a similar feel, and though Mr. Rochester is good, I don’t feel like it compared to Jane Eyre. Mr. Rochester’s voice isn’t quite what I was expecting it to be, and to me there was something that didn’t entirely line up with how he was portrayed in Brontë’s masterpiece. I also feel that third part of the book – which essentially condenses the narrative from Jane Eyre from Mr. Rochester’s point-of-view – didn’t really give add too much to what was already told through Jane’s eyes.
However, Sarah Shoemaker’s novel was good in its own right, it is probably not fair to compare the two. The writing itself was good and fully developed. I liked the fact that it mirrored the feel of Jane Eyre in terms of organization as we watch Mr. Rochester grow up. If you liked Jane Eyre, like me, I’d definitely check this book out. It adds another layer to the classic story.
I feel that this book is an overall 3.5 stars, but I will round it up to 4 because it was better than a 3.
Thank you to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for an advanced copy of this e-galley in exchange for an honest review!