Book Review: Jane Eyre’s Sisters by Jody Gentian Bower

Book Review: Jane Eyre’s Sisters by Jody Gentian Bower June 23, 2015

51fvnKlIJ7L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I really wanted to love this book.  I love Jane Eyre!  And I read it in graduate school!  And I love mythology!  And comparative literature!  And archetypes!  I was excited.

I do not love it.  I like the premise…and was pretty sold on it once I realized I fit the pattern she describes of the Aletis….Difficult childhood, misfit as a young woman, married the wrong husband, left him, then wandered around a bit until learning how to be my true self…That’s me!  I must be destined for great things!  Awesome!

Alas.  It suffers quite a bit from her trying to prove her point by giving lots and lots of examples, not all of which actually fit the pattern very well.  Bower wants so badly to fit Jane Austen’s witty romances into her archetype that she shoehorns them in quite brutally.  I’m sorry, but Lizzie Bennett hiking three miles to Bingley’s house to look after her sister does not a wandering in the wilderness make.  No matter how muddy her skirt was when she got there.  I might also point out that Ms. Bower seems to have confused Ang Lee’s film of Sense and Sensibility with the novel.  (Hint:  The character of Margaret does not exist in the book).  Austen’s heroines, delightful as they are, are creatures of the drawing room, and while they may defy social expectations to some extent, they still all seem to wind up comfortably married to gentlemen in possession of good fortunes.

On the other hand, it is full of declarations like, “The line between those who think women are just there to be used and those who think women must always be ‘useful’ is a hair’s thickness wide.”  Right on, sister.

I found it worth reading for the ideas in it, but found myself wishing it had fewer literary examples and more practical suggestions about what to do with the model she is describing.  Maybe after the ideas have had a chance to percolate out and be applied by others, this will prove to be a good beginning.  But it feels like a beginning, not something quite as thoroughly worked out as it needs to be.




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