Becoming Jane Eyre

In Sheila Kohler’s masterful re-creation of Charlotte Brontë’s struggles to write her landmark Victorian masterpiece, we are introducted to Charlotte as the dutiful daughter sitting at her frail father’s bedside as he recovers from eye surgery.  Charlotte cherishes the silence as she conjures up the character who would become the immortal Jane Eyre, giving her “a sprite’s name, a fairy’s name, half spirit, half flesh, light in darkness, truth amid hypocrisy, the name of one who sees.”


The unconventional and talented Brontë sisters -- Charlotte, Emily, and Anne -- were budding writers in the 1840s, a time when women’s lives were considered unworthy of literary treatment and women were inconceivable as authors. Charlotte has already received harsh rejection letters (“Literature…cannot and should not be the business of a woman’s life”). But she was spurred rather than deterred, determined to “write out of rage, out of a deep sense of her own worth.” The orphaned Jane Eyre, the independent-minded governess at Thornfield Hall who falls in love with her employer, Mr. Rochester, whose wife rants madly in the attic, is drawn from Charlotte’s own most painful emotions: her longing for her dead mother and her older sisters, her bitter experiences in boarding school and as a governess, and her unrequited passion for her married writing teacher.


Kohler's perspective strongly empathizes with the will it takes for Charlotte to clarify her ambition.  Her dream is to reach other women: “to entertain, to startle, to give voice to what they hold in secret in their hearts.” The obstacles are many, the possibilities appear few; therein lies the tale.  Becoming Jane Eyre proves a fresh take on the historical novel, a meditation on the creative process, and a gift for those who take Brontë's passionate act of creation into their hearts.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.