As regular readers of Brontë Babe Blog will know, I am obsessed with all things Brontë. I’m currently making my way through a Jane Eyre-inspired novel by Tracy Neiss called Mr. R: A Rock & Roll Romance which has been entertaining me on my morning train journeys to work. I hope to have this finished and reviewed soon. However, this week I stumbled upon a short, Brontë inspired story after reading a review on Goodreads by a rather brilliant Brontë blogger. Seriously, click here to check out The Eyre Guide if you haven’t already discovered this gem of a blog. The short story/novella is Brizecombe Hall by Catherine E. Chapman, a Jane Eyre-inspired tale of the attraction between a young governess, Ann Rhys, and her wealthy master, Mr Brindley.
The storyline is a much more stripped-back version of Jane Eyre, but it certainly follows the same track: a young governess goes to work for the rich Mr Brindley in order to teach his two young children due to his frequent absences from home, but the attraction between them is undeniable. There is a sense Mr Brindley tries to resist his feelings by inviting the beautiful Cassandra Newbold, a character reminiscent of Blanche Ingram, to stay at his estate. Ann, however, is eventually called back home to deal with a family emergency, threatening the spark between her and her master.
There are some nice touches in there and references to other Brontë works as well as Charlotte’s. Unlike Jane, Ann Rhys is not an orphan but the daughter of a clergyman which I see as both a reference to Anne Brontë and Agnes Grey, and the Brontë patriarch, Patrick. I also wonder whether the name Rhys is a little tribute to Jean Rhys, author of another piece of Jane Eyre-inspired fiction, Wide Sargasso Sea. There are also little nods to Emily Brontë in Ann’s love of walking on the moors and nature. The name of one of Ann’s sisters, Mariah, is also a nod to both Maria Brontës.
The short length meant I was able to stick to Brizecombe Hall and finish it fairly quickly. It’s an enjoyable and sweet read that is pleasantly written and I found myself disappointed that it didn’t go on for longer. I found the characters to be engaging and likeable, and there is a suitable air of mystery about Mr Brindley that would do Mr Rochester proud. This could easily have been the opening of a longer narrative, but I enjoyed it for what it was. It’s actually free to purchase from Amazon UK’s Kindle store right now so go and get yourself a copy.
In Loving Memory of Bob the Bichon (2007-2019).
A lover of life, the Brontës, and Haworth who knows that I’m just going to write because I can’t help it
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