Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Margot Livesey Reinvents 'Jane Eyre'

I received an email tonight about a forthcoming book, The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey, in which a young woman determined to overcome her gothically unfortunate childhood, accepts a position as an au pair on Scotland's remote Orkney Islands. Barnes & Noble tells me that "in the spirit of Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres, this modern reworking of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre spins a classic novel into something wonderfully new."

This reminds me of other retellings.  Who doesn't love West Side Story as an updated version of Romeo and Juliet?  One of the first I encountered is the Jane Eyre prequel Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Ryes.  And there have been a flurry of them since then: The Hours for Mrs. Darroway; and a whole batch for Little Women.  But certainly this isn't new: in college I spent a whole semester examining the various versions of the Don Juan legend.

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