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Reader, I Married Him by Tracy Chevalier
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Reader, I Married Him (2016)

by Tracy Chevalier (Editor)

Other authors: Joanna Briscoe (Contributor), Emma Donoghue (Contributor), Helen Dunmore (Contributor), Esther Freud (Contributor), Jane Gardam (Contributor)15 more, Linda Grant (Contributor), Kristy Gunn (Contributor), Tessa Hadley (Contributor), Sarah Hall (Contributor), Susan Hill (Contributor), Elizabeth McCracken (Contributor), Nadifa Mohamed (Contributor), Audrey Niffenegger (Contributor), Patricia Park (Contributor), Francine Prose (Contributor), Namwali Serpell (Contributor), Elif Shafak (Contributor), Lionel Shriver (Contributor), Salley Vickers (Contributor), Evie Wyld (Contributor)

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18013101,237 (3.55)33
This collection of original stories by today's finest women writers--including Tracy Chevalier, Francine Prose, Elizabeth McCracken, Tessa Hadley, Audrey Niffenegger, and more--takes inspiration from the opening line in Charlotte Brontë's most beloved novel, Jane Eyre. A fixture in the literary canon, Charlotte Brontë is revered by readers all over the world. Her novels featuring unforgettable, strong heroines still resonate with millions today. And who could forget one of literature's best-known lines: "Reader, I married him" from her classic novel Jane Eyre? Part of a remarkable family that produced three acclaimed female writers at a time in nineteenth-century Britain when few women wrote, and fewer were published, Bronté has become a great source of inspiration to writers, especially women, ever since. Now in Reader, I Married Him, twenty of today's most celebrated women authors have spun original stories, using the opening line from Jane Eyre as a springboard for their own flights of imagination.… (more)

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These are stories inspired by Jane Eyre. As with any compilation of short stories, some are good, some are bad, but this time the good ones outweigh the bad. My favorite was "The Hold" about a woman with multiple marriages. Wow, is all I have to say. There was “The Orphan Exchange” which centers around the time in the orphanage, wonderful. “The Mirror” is a creepy story from Rochester's perspective which is the very definition of gaslighting. One is from the nurse's point of view, “Grace Poole Her Testimony”. “The Mash-Up” is a funny, crazy story about a marriage between people of different cultures, not really Jayne Eyrish, but still engaging. "Robinson Crusoe at the Waterpark" is about two gay men and their son. At first I didn't really see how it fit in this anthology, but it did. 'My Mother's Wedding" is another kind of creepy story about marriage and family. Lionel Shriver’s “The Self-Seeding Sycamore” is good on so many levels even though it has little to do with Bronte. Chevalier's own "The Dorset Gap" also is not much related to Bronte except in the opposites attract kind of way. ( )
  Citizenjoyce | Sep 12, 2019 |
First up: confession time - I'm not a huge fan of Jane Eyre. It's one of those stories where I was willing her to walk away from him and stand on her own two feet and not submit to convention. As an unequal marriage I always wondered how much chance it had of success.
This book takes the story and themes of Jane Eyre and each female writer has written a short story in response. In some of them it is a continuation of the Jane story (with two quite different takes on the outcome) in others it is the same story told from a differen character's persepctive. Others take the story and transpose it in time and place while others riff on the subject of love and marriage - both good and bad. Several take as their start or end point the final lines of Jane Eyre, and in each story the line has a different twist or emphasis. I really enjoyed listening to these. ( )
  Helenliz | Sep 3, 2019 |
As my faithful listeners know, I have a long-standing and abiding admiration for the Brontë sisters, Ann, Emily, and Charlotte. When a new book came out by Tracy Chevalier with the title, Reader, I Married Him, I could not get to a bookstore fast enough. The title of the book stems from that immortal line near the end of Jane Eyre.

Tracy has written a number of wonderfully inventive novels including, The Girl with the Pearl Earring, and At the Edge of the Orchard. She has also managed to corral 21 of the best women writers today. Among them is Emma Donoghue, Francine Prose, Elif Shafak. Each writer based their stories the line “Reader, I married him,” and then took that wonderful morsel to stories of amazing creativity, empathy, and power.

Picking favorites for this review is almost impossible. While the stories vary on the treatment, they all possess wonderful imaginations. A case in point is “Grace Poole Her Testimony” by Helen Dunmore. She writes, “Reader, I married him. Those are her words for sure. She would have him at the time and place she chose, with every dish on the table to her appetite. // She came in meek and mild, but I knew her at first glance. There she sat in her low chair at a decent distance from the fire, buttering up Mrs. Fairfax as if the old lady were a plate of parsnips. She didn’t see me, but I saw her. You don’t live the life I lived without learning to move so quiet that there is never a stir to frighten anyone. // Jane Eyre. You couldn’t touch her. Nothing could bring a flush of color to that pale cheek. What kind of a pallor was it, you ask? A snowdrop pushing its way out of the bare earth, as green as it was white: that would be a comparison she liked. But I would say: sheets. Blank sheets. Paper, or else a bed that no one had ever lain in or ever wood” (31). Grace Poole was a servant of Rochester who was charged with taking care of Bertha, the iconic “mad women in the attic.”

Joanna Briscoe writes in “To Hold,” Mary and I stole conversations between lessons, between days and nights, every moment with her treasured, even the times when we clashed and tangled and cried, then tried so hard to start afresh. But how could you love a woman as I loved her? She lined my existence because she lived inside me, and at night as Robert slept, there were the colors of her, the fragrance, the smooth shell of skin behind her ear. When we could escape town, no one else on the moors on wet days, she walked with me in all the winds, which had names, and by the stream sources, among the curlews, the peregrine nests. She showed me the sandstone and the thorns and waterfalls: all the pretty places where the toadstools grew in dark secret; the drowning ponds, sphagnum, fairy tale growth in tree shadows” (61). This story has an ethereal bent that bring to mind the moors the Brontë sisters loved so dearly.

If I had the time and space, I would throw about pages to give a sample of each story. Tracy Chevalier in Reader, I married Him has assembled a marvelous collection of stories that reflect on the wealth of the literature of the 19th century. It is a collection every avid reader and admirer of the Brontë’s should have a permanent copy close at hand. 5 Stars for each of these women.

--Chiron, 11/4/18 ( )
  rmckeown | Jan 22, 2019 |
Excellent collection. ( )
  Siubhan | Feb 28, 2018 |
Reader, I Married Him is a collection of short stories by female writers inspired by the famous line from Jane Eyre. The collection brims over with works by numerous well-known authors of literary fiction including Jane Gardam, Emma Donoghue, Salley Vickers, Lionel Shriver, and a good many more authors that you've undoubtedly heard of. Some stories share a direct and obvious connection to Jane Eyre while others simply use marriage as a jumping off point to head in a different direction. Like many short story collections, this one is a bit uneven, but definitely worth a read for some of the highlights.

My reaction to Reader, I Married Him covered the usual bases of my reaction to short story collections. A little, "What was the point of that?" with a side of, "I don't get it..." Some, "This is good, but I wish it was a whole book." And, of course, even a bit of "This is really good/clever. Why have I never heard of this author?" Oddly enough, yet somehow par for the course (I am going to mostly unwittingly get *all* the sports analogies into this review, just you watch.), despite this collection running over with big name female authors, the stories I found myself the most taken with were by authors that were unfamiliar to me.

In Kirsty Gunn's selection, "Dangerous Dog," a chance encounter with a few boys and a dog whose bark is much worse than his bite changes the life of a fitness trainer taking a writing class. In it, Gunn cleverly re-imagines Mr. Rochester as a dog, and somehow manages to weave together what seem like three stories in just over ten pages. The other story that really captured me was "The China from Buenos Aires" by Patricia Park, about a Korean girl who leaves her Buenos Aires home to go to college in New York City, There she feels homesick and isolated until she happens upon a boy she knew from home, but is ordinary Juan enough to bind her to a place where she never felt at home? (Both of these stories were slam dunks. Please, somebody stop me.)

All in all, I found this to be an enjoyable collection. While I may not have been satisfied by each story, since I often find myself unsatisfied by the medium, I was impressed with each author's ability to evoke places and characters so fully in only a few pages. A word to the wise, many of the stories in the collection have, at best, the faintest of connections to Jane Eyre, so if you're seeking mostly obvious parallels, I would advise adjusting your expectations before picking up Reader, I Married Him. However, if you're looking for a solid collection by some well known female authors that is admirably diverse, definitely give this one a try! ( )
1 vote yourotherleft | Jul 26, 2016 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chevalier, TracyEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Briscoe, JoannaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Donoghue, EmmaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dunmore, HelenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Freud, EstherContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gardam, JaneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Grant, LindaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gunn, KristyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hadley, TessaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hall, SarahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hill, SusanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McCracken, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mohamed, NadifaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Niffenegger, AudreyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Park, PatriciaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Prose, FrancineContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Serpell, NamwaliContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shafak, ElifContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shriver, LionelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vickers, SalleyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wyld, EvieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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