21 June 2012

Acts of Revision/Change is Bad Pt. 1

I’ve recently read two books that were based on other works. In both cases, even though the books were okay, more than anything they left me wanting to read the original works again. 

The first book was The Flight of Gemma Hardy, which is an updating of Jane Eyre. Not updated to current times, but to the 1950s and 60s.  I’m not sure how it works on its own for someone who hasn’t read Jane Eyre. There are certain beats to the Jane Eyre story you have to have, and this book has them. But they aren’t cleverly interpreted or really all that modernized. It really is just like the author took Jane, changed character and place names (Mr. Sinclair for Mr. Rochester, Blackbird Hall for Thornfield), a few biographical details, then added a few things to differentiate it chronologically – cars, phones, lesbians, WWII.  I spent the book just waiting out the major plot points and not really enjoying the journey. Whereas I’ve read the original multiple times and I enjoy the journey every time, because it is so well written and the language is so beautiful.  (Also, it’s so hard to imagine a Jane Eyre-type character in pants).  

The big twist in Gemma Hardy – the homologue to the infamous twist in Jane Eyre – was disappointing. I mean, it’s not good an inconsequential thing, but it’s hardly something that warrants Gemma’s reaction. Whereas Jane’s reaction to what happens in Jane Eyre makes much more sense. I’m being deliberately vague because Oz hasn’t read Eyre yet and has somehow managed to avoid this spoiler for her entire life, and I don’t want to ruin it now.   

Here's a random picture of Michael Fassbender playing Mr. Rochester.

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