Book Club: Jane Eyre Laid Bare

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Author: Charlotte Bronte & Eve Sinclair
ISBN: 978-1-4472-2928-5
RRP: $19.99

Throughout my life I have read many many books, I would hate to hazard a guess at an actual number, and they have been of many genres, classics included. My memory becomes quite vague over time on many of the books I have read by the sheer volume of them, which I think is to be expected. I have read the original Jane Eyre at some point over the years, I think it was after finishing school but I couldn’t be certain. Either way, I know there have been many books read between then and now so I don’t remember the original clearly, at the moment I can’t decide whether that’s a blessing or a hindrance.

My original impression of the erotic retelling of Jane Eyre was one of ‘Really???’. I tried to go in with an open mind and a healthy curiosity as to how they have done this, trying to focus as much on the combination of voices as the actual story in an attempt to remain objective. I love the classics, or the idea of the classics at least. And hypocritical as it may seem I have less hesitancy about the vamping, zombifying and other supernatural twists added to the classics than I do about the eroticising of them.

Jane Eyre Laid Bare may be the first of the eroticised classics I have come across but a little internet research has shown that there are actually quite a few of them around. I have read a few of the sequels to classics, written by new authors, and again looked at it a little differently. The sequels are the new authors imaginings of what happens next, and some of them are quite well done. It is a little strange when you can find two or three different sequels to the same classic and each of the authors have taken the characters in a different direction. But these sequels don’t touch the classic, they leave the classic as it is and follow on from it – or in some cases there are prequels that precede the classic.

That is not what we have here. Jane Eyre Laid Bare is the classic with the addition of an erotic twist.


Try as I might to keep an open mind it was extremely difficult. My lack of recent familiarity with the original may be a blessing in that I couldn’t recognise where one voice ended and the other began. Sinclair has certainly done well in retaining the voice of the time in her additional storyline, there is no glaring scenes that you instantly feel were penned over a century and a half after the others.

The erotic passages began quite early in the novel which did surprise me a little, I was expecting to be eased slowly into the new feel of the story but that was not to be. Our plain, pure innocent young Jane was pleasuring herself within the first three pages and I had to stop and wonder what I had got myself into.

The entire feel of the novel is more debauched than I would have expected. The artwork adorning the hall is mainly of copulating couples, there are phallic ornaments in one of the public rooms and an entire collection of illustrated fornication manuals. Even young Adele, Rochester’s ward and Jane’s pupil sings a suggestive song early on and is then quite comfortable in company where many of the guests are behaving quite lasciviously, without any thought of censoring their behaviour because of Adele’s presence.

It took me a while to get into this book, largely I think because the secret thoughts and desires of Jane were so far removed from the pure innocence I had come to attribute to her. The purpose of many scenes is nothing more than awakening new desires in Jane, even though most of the scenes were not meant for her eyes.I do have to say that these scenes fit quite well with the time period in which they are set, they are believable in that setting.

I sit here thinking back over the novel, the story and the additional twists trying to put into words my feelings and I am still not quite sure. Part of me remains a little put off by the eroticising of the classics but there is a part of me that appreciates the way this was put together.

Eve Sinclair shows us a completely different side of Jane, and it’s a side that allows her to choose a different future for herself at the end of the book, there is also a very different Bertha Mason storyline.

My personal thoughts are that if you can suspend all thoughts of the original you could find this quite an enjoyable foray into the behind closed doors debauchery of the 19th century. It has left me seriously considering trawling my bookcases in search of the original to refresh my memory of Bronte’s story.

10 thoughts on “Book Club: Jane Eyre Laid Bare

  1. This was not my usual read, it was by no means bad, but I didn;t really like it that much either. It was ok as far as the story goes, but it is hard to imagine someone so prim and proper really giving into the base desires in this particular book.
    I don’t like to be too critical of a book, but even though I had no dramas with the reading of the book, the story just really did nothing for me, I have never really been taken with period books and the speech was slightly annoying me by the end being very formal in its style.
    I would still recommend this book as I know a couple of my friends who would enjoy this book, but it was not my favourite and I would not read it again.

  2. I, like Michelle, was quite taken aback by the shocking introduction of Jane’s erotic thoughts within the first few pages. Being a lover of period pieces I am very much accustomed to the very innocence of these ancient times. But in this book we are thrust into a totally different viewpoint of the world through a more worldy and sexually promiscuous Jane. It took me a very long time to get into the book, as Jane’s explicit thoughts just didnt seem to fit the picture. The whole reason i enjoy period pieces is the innocence and the escapism from our overly-sex addicted modern society and unfortunately this take on Jane Eyre tainted the experience for me! In saying this I cannot completely dismiss the book as a failure, it is very well written and adapted but just not what I was looking for nor what I expected!

  3. I have never read Jane Eyre so don’t really have any idea how the two compare side by side.
    Right at the beginning we get right into the things girls get up to at boarding school and I thought that it would continue on through the book like this, but it went in a different direction.
    Then it seem to just go to murals and objects around the rooms that she could see. There was a little spying to see what Mr Rochester did really get up to with his friends and little thoughts here and there.
    There seemed to be a long part of the book where nothing really happened and I thought it a bit strange in that it was an erotic book with much left as is and it did seem to change its style.
    I think there could have been more erotic parts in the book with them being a little more in the right time. Some bits just didn’t seem to fit the era.
    I did get a little bit annoyed with the french speaking parts having not translation I would have liked to know what was being said and what did it mean to the story line.
    I did want to keep reading to find out what was happening next but was very disappointed with the ending. It just didn’t seem right with the time that the book was set.
    It was an ‘ok’ book, one that I’m glad I read but would find it hard to convince someone else to read.
    I think I may have to read Jane Eyre now to see how much the story overlaps and what parts are different.

  4. First off I must say that I have read the original Jane Eyre and I really enjoyed it so I was intrigued at what an erotic retelling of the classic would be like. To be completely honest after finishing Jane Eyre Laid Bare I can’t say I enjoyed the book.
    Perhaps i felt we would be more eased into this new version but At the end of the first chapter after Jane has pleasured herself I felt shock and slightly uneasy. Throughout the book I feel that while Eve Sinclair’s writing flows well with Charlotte Bronte I really felt that a lot of Sinclair’s input into the novel felt our of place for the period the novel is set in. For me Jane’s innocence and a lot of the mystery of Mr Rochester and of Thornfield is lost because of the additions by Sinclair to the novel.
    Maybe if you had never read the original or had any idea of what Jane Eyre was about this book would be enjoyed more. Unfortunately because I had read the original I don’t feel that this version added anything to the story that I enjoyed. In this case I feel perhaps a classic novel like Jane Eyre is best left alone.

  5. I had mixed feelings in regards to this book. I quite enjoyed the “erotic” parts and found them to be quite normal feelings that any normal woman would desire so I was far from shocked, they always say “it’s the quiet ones you have to watch”.
    I found it difficult sometimes reading smoothly with the way the book was written in the older language-type, some was straight forward but there were certain sentences that I read and reread over and over, trying to get them to sound right so I coud get the gist of what was trying to be said…..but had no luck with these parts, so I just carried on having no idea of what had just happened.
    I really disliked the relationship between Jane Eyre and Rochester right from the beginning…he was a PIG and I have no idea what she ever could of seen in him, he had no congeniality or normalcy or warmness about him, he was stiff and awkward. And the way he treated Jane made me angry, he was always cold and dismissive and yet she would always talk herself into loving him again. I found because the entirety of the book was consumed with this relationship, that I was frustrated the majority of the time. Even the way Rochester acted towards his “adopted” child was terrible, he couldn’t stand the child, hated having her near him ever, that would’ve been my first sign of what type of a man he was.
    I liked the description of Thornfield and the countryside, I could picture it in my mind and wanted to be there. Thornfield would make a great haunted mansion. It wasn’t the hardest book I’ve ever read, nor the worst but I think to make it more readable they could’ve given Jane a bit more ‘pluck’ because I lost all respect for her throughout the story.

  6. As a big fan of both Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and erotic fiction I was rather excited to get my hands on this book! 
    The cover looked classy and I couldn’t wait to see what Sinclair had done with Jane, who in my opinion is one of the most admirable and likeable characters I’ve come across.
    I found the language seamlessly blended and thought this would help me get into the swing of the additional plot. However this still did not allow me to find the erotic descriptions in harmony with Bronte’s work. Although the erotic passages were definitely up to standard, I just couldn’t enjoy them as much as I would have liked.
    I started out with an open mind, but my love of Bronte’s story quickly biased me towards an unfavourable reading of this novel.
    I felt slightly betrayed at the tainting of Jane, and I soon began to dislike this new version of her. I continuously was comparing her with the innocent, strong willed and moral Jane I was so familiar with and this disrupted the flow of the story. 
    As a first time reader of an erotic retelling of a classic, I was a bit shocked at the combination of the two!  I certainly don’t think anyone could of done it better than Sinclair, but I just don’t think it should be attempted with such a novel as Jane Eyre at all!
    Not a book I’d recommend to my Mum, but in saying that I still think a couple of my friends might get a kick out of it so not a complete write off!

  7. I would firstly like to thank Beauty and Lace for this opportunity. I feel very lucky to have been chosen.
    I have always been a lover of classics, Jane Eyre being a particular favourite of mine, and i was curious to see how it would be retold.
    I have to admit it was quite shocking. Imagine an “innocent” story, say for instance, Harry Potter. Now imagine someone rewriting Harry Potter and turning Harry into a sex freak. It’s just not Harry so it just seems wrong! That’s how i felt when reading this from page one. Its not Jane! The way the character tells of her sexual experiences with Rochester, was uncharacteristic. Jane allowing herself to have sexual relations before marriage does not correlate with the original character.
    I think people would have better responded to this story if it had not been based on a classic, but rather a new story with new characters.
    With that said, this book was an easy, light read, but i would only recommend it to those who haven’t read the original.

  8. Firstly, thank you Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to read this book. I have to say that being a fan of Charlotte Bronte’s original Jane Eyre, I wasn’t sure what to expect and was curious as to how Eve Sinclair was going to make this work. Erotic Jane Eyre??
    I began to read this with what I thought was an open mind but to be honest I found it difficult to accept Charlotte Bronte’s innocent Jane pleasuring herself. I did finish reading it but more out of curiosity than enjoyment. If I had to recommend this book to someone it would be to someone who hasn’t read the original.

  9. A published author once told me that the first sentence of a novel sets the scene for the whole book. In my mind, that is certainly true of ‘Jane Eyre Laid Bare’. Its first sentence takes up an 8-line paragraph, the subject of which is rambling, a little confusing and mostly unnecessary.

    The story here is relatively simple: a young naive woman goes to work as a governess. Her employer is a jaded gentleman with a dark secret. Eve Sinclair stirs the ‘Jane Eyre’ plot with sexual curiosity and exploits.

    I love Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’. I love erotica. Unfortunately ‘Jane Eyre Laid Bare’ had too little of each to satisfy me. I devoured the pages of dialogue – but realised that was Bronte’s touch, and the book made me only hungry to read the real thing. The sex scenes? Too little! Real erotica takes the characters and reader into emotions through physical encounters. For example, Jane helped Mr Rochester when he sprained his ankle. This was the first touch by a human male she’d ever experienced. Bronte brushed over this. Sinclair, however, should have detailed the feel of Rochester’s hand on Jane’s shoulder, his scent, how her heart raced etc. Alas, there was none of this.

    The biggest problem with the book, however, was that I just didn’t believe in the characters. Jane Eyre a vamp in Quaker’s clothing? Mrs Fairfax, plain housekeeper and duster of porn? I also didn’t believe Mr Rochester’s reasons for his darkness, but to discuss here would be to give away the ending.

    ‘Jane Eyre Laid Bare’ is a great title. The cover is terrific, most evocative and tasteful. The book overall disappoints. One only for the curious or nitpickers.

  10. I was so very excited to receive this book to read as Jane Eyre is one of my favorite classic novels.
    I began reading with true excitement but found very quickly that I wasnt as interested as I had hoped.
    Im sad to say that I cant help but feel that this was Eve Sinclairs way of taking Charlotte Brontes novel…adding a few bits here and there and making money out of it.
    There was comfort for me in the familiar story but then the additions to the original were so over the top that what was firstly a stroy about a young lady with very little life experience as far as men was concerned turned into a story about a female that saw something sexual at every turn. I no longer liked Jane which was rather sad.
    If you have read Jane Eyre then you know the story…just toss in a few sexual thoughts and antics here and there and you have this story.
    I feel its probably better to read if you havent already read Jane Eyre.

    Sadly this book was a disappointment for me.

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