Friday, November 22, 2019

The great third wheels of fiction

Annaleese Jochems was born in 1994 and grew up in the far north of New Zealand. She won the 2016 Adam Prize from the International Institute of Modern Letters and the 2018 Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction for Baby, which is her first book.

At CrimeReads she tagged some of the great third wheels of literature, including:
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

Plain, poor Jane has nothing to offer the rich and virile Rochester but her virtue. He says that’s worth a lot. But how can his love for Jane be true when the beautiful and wealthy Blanche Ingram is fluttering about, hankering for his affections? To readers it’s obvious that Rochester has something to hide. He’s too perfect. How can Jane’s story, which has been one of deprivation, suddenly become a fairy tale of love and luxury without someone having to pay the price?

The thing that’s most intriguing to me about Jane Eyre is Charlotte Brontë. How aware was she of the subtext of her novel? This puzzle is a big pleasure with all fiction, but because Jane Eyre is such a surreal, dreamlike story and told in such plain, reasonable style, it becomes particularly obsessive. Surely it’s no accident that the handsome Rochester needs to lose his vision before Jane can trust him? Or that another woman has to suffer before the long-suffering Jane’s big romantic love can be true?
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jane Eyre also made Sara Collins's list of six of fiction's best bad women, Sophie Hannah's list of fifteen top books with a twist, E. Lockhart's list of five favorite stories about women labeled “difficult,” Sophie Hannah's top ten list of twists in fiction, Gail Honeyman's list of five of her favorite idiosyncratic characters, Kate Hamer's top ten list of books about adopted children, a list of four books that changed Vivian Gornick, Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Esther Inglis-Arkell's top ten list of the most horribly mistreated first wives in Gothic fiction, Martine Bailey’s top six list of the best marriage plots in novels, Radhika Sanghani's top ten list of books to make sure you've read before graduating college, Lauren Passell's top five list of Gothic novels, Molly Schoemann-McCann's lists of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance and five of the best--and more familiar--tropes in fiction, Becky Ferreira's lists of seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship and the top six most momentous weddings in fiction, Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books list, Kathryn Harrison's list of six favorite books with parentless protagonists, Megan Abbott's top ten list of novels of teenage friendship, a list of Bettany Hughes's six best books, the Guardian's top 10 lists of "outsider books" and "romantic fiction;" it appears on Lorraine Kelly's six best books list, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, and Jessica Duchen's top ten list of literary Gypsies, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best governesses in literature, ten of the best men dressed as women, ten of the best weddings in literature, ten of the best locked rooms in literature, ten of the best pianos in literature, ten of the best breakfasts in literature, ten of the best smokes in fiction, and ten of the best cases of blindness in literature. It is one of Kate Kellaway's ten best love stories in fiction.

The Page 99 Test: Jane Eyre.

--Marshal Zeringue