A Modern Retelling
The Other Wife by Juliet Bell is an absolutely marvelous retelling of the classic Jane Eyre but set in contemporary Australia. You do not have to have read the original to enjoy this tale. However for hardened Jane Eyre Fans (myself included) you will be in for a real treat. I know the original Jane Eyre inside out and back to front. As The Other Wife progressed, I thought I knew what was coming but it was fresh and up to date.
With the same characters, The Other Wife has a feeling of familiarity which enchants the reader. The tale is told from two alternating points of view of Jane and Betty. The reader feels empathy for them both. They are two neglected young girls, with memories of loving mothers, who are searching for their lost loves.
The theme of mothers runs throughout the novel as girls are torn from loving arms in contrast to one daughter who is rejected and repelled by her mother. Memories are warm but realities are cold.
Another major theme is that of female companionship. Females band together against domineering and abusive males.
There is prejudice and hatred towards those who are seen as different. In this case racial prejudice is directed towards the Aborigines, the indigenous people of Australia.
There is a very twisted view of religion presented as God is seen as judgmental and full of hatred towards certain groups. This is not the God I know, whose character is love. People who preach this sort of religion are not representing the God of the Bible but have used His name to preach hatred.
I really enjoyed The Other Wife – it was familiar but different, highly recommended and very enjoyable. Whether you are a Jane Eyre fan or not, this is a fabulous read that will have you glued from the start.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.