I love how it riffs with the idea introduced from Jeanette Winterson’s novel Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit – the protagonist’s mother tells her that Jane Eyre marries StJohn Rivers. In The Eyre Affair, that is also how the novel ends. To make matters even worse, someone has developed a machine to enter the Book World and then suddenly Jane Eyre is kidnapped, with literary detective Thursday Next leading the charge to rescue her.
I adore the whole series for how it takes on the literary canon but I think the Brontë in-jokes are my favourite. In later books, Thursday meets a back-story seller who bewails the beautiful back story they had done for Mrs Rochester which Charlotte Brontë ignored. No worries though, they just resold it to Jean Rhys.
Another episode sees Thursday (along with her mentor Miss Havisham) leading a group therapy session for the characters of Wuthering Heights to help them work on their aggression towards each other. And also there’s the discovery that during the part of Jane Eyre where the lead character is away getting to know her cousins, Mrs Fairfax and Mr Rochester open up Thornfield to tourists. The whole thing is totally inspired – it’s such a treat for the fans. It also reminds us that in and among the high drama and emotion, reading the Brontë novels is actually an awful lot of fun.
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