Entertainment Books

Saturday 25 January 2020

Fiction: Reader, I Married Him, Short Stories edited by Tracy Chevalier

The Borough Press €15.99

Reader, I Married Him, Short Stories edited by Tracy Chevalier
Reader, I Married Him, Short Stories edited by Tracy Chevalier
Deirdre Conroy

Deirdre Conroy

Reader, I married him is one of the most riveting lines in English literature. Taken from the last sentence of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë's seminal, protofeminist work, it is loaded with significance. As if anticipating almost 200 years of international readership, Brontë individualises the reader and gives Jane Eyre ownership of her decision to marry her enigmatic employer, Rochester. In a period where class distinction was vivid and social mobility limited, Brontë depicted a 19th-century orphan who becomes a governess and an inspiring woman of strong heart and keen endeavour.

Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, has curated this collection, which includes diverse responses to Brontë's masterpiece. Twenty-one of the world's brightest and best writers have contributed thematic short stories to this bicentenary celebration of Brontë's birth.

Among them, Elif Shafak, the best-selling Turkish author, has penned a view of unrequited love between a Muslim girl and Christian boy. Emma Donoghue explores a friendship forged between women at a Kurhaus (spa) in Wiesbaden and unravels a 'marriage that ought never to have happened.' Salley Vickers turns the tables in Reader, She Married Me where Rochester reveals a long-held secret. Audrey Niffenegger imagines Jane in a contemporary war-torn country in The Orphan Exchange. In the Self-Seeding Sycamore, Lionel Shriver, adds a healthy reminder of fruitful possibilities after a marriage has ended. Other authors include Helen Dunmore, Sarah Hall, Tessa Hadley and Roxanne Gay.

You do not need to have read Jane Eyre to enjoy this collection, but it will inspire you to go back to the Brontë sisters. This book is a beautiful gift.

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