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The Multiverse of the Brontës: Tortured Love

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • June 02, 2022

Last month, we kicked off a new project to explore the "Multiverse" of selected classics by featuring inventive books and films inspired by our favorite time-honored tales. Our first installment offered ten playful spins on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Now, drawing from reader suggestions, we move on to the brilliant Brontë sisters. Most of these retellings center on Jane Eyre by Charlotte or Wuthering Heights by Emily, but we also found a few great parallel universes for the Brontës themselves.

Within These Wicked Walls

After Andromeda's mentor expels her before she earns her license as an exorcist, she must search for a Patron. When handsome young heir Magnus Rochester offers her a job, she takes it without question. From Lauren Blackwood, a magical, Ethiopian-inspired take on Jane Eyre.

The Misses Brontë's Establishment

Instead of adapting their works, this novel by Amy Wolf redraws the lives of the Brontë family with happier circumstances. The story centers on a successful version of the girls' school the sisters dreamed of creating and the experience of their troubled student as she benefits from their brilliance.

Re Jane

Jane is a Korean-American orphan living in Queens in this funny, moving retelling by Patricia Park. When she lands a job as an au pair for a pair of Brooklyn professors with an adopted Chinese daughter, Jane sees a chance for a whole new life. Can she stay true to herself?

The Lost Child

In the tradition of Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea and J. M. Coetzee's Foe, Caryl Phillips's prequel to Wuthering Heights offers a lyrical tale of orphans and outcasts, absence and hope. This is the story of young Heathcliff's life before Mr. Earnshaw took him in.

The Wife Upstairs

This compulsively readable thriller by Rachel Hawkins casts Jane as a dog walker in an upscale neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama. When she becomes involved with handsome, brooding widower Eddie Rochester, she starts to imagine a future with him. But will their pasts keep haunting them?

The Eyre Affair

Jasper Fforde's time-traveling fantasy depicts a futuristic literature-obsessed England where the lines between reality and fiction are blurred. When someone kidnaps Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë's novel, renowned Special Operative Thursday Next is faced with the challenge of her career.

Abide With Me

Sabin Willett casts Heathcliff as Roy Murphy, a moody, bad-boy who has just arrived in his small hometown in Vermont after serving in Afghanistan. Now a changed man, he returns forged by the fires of war and burning with a romantic obsession nothing can quench.

Jane Steele

"Reader, I murdered him." Lyndsey Faye brings us a bloody thrill ride of a novel depicting a Jane who leaves a trail of corpses in her wake as she fights for her life. Accepting a position as governess for the intriguing new master of her childhood home, she meets a house full of marvelously strange characters.

Here On Earth

In Alice Hoffman's seductive, contemporary spin on Wuthering Heights, March Murray must face her troubled history as she returns to the small Massachusetts town where she grew up. The past collides with the present when she encounters her old flame Hollis and their reckless love is reignited.

The Madwoman Upstairs

Brontë fans will love Catherine Lowell's clever, original debut. Samantha is the presumed heir to a long-rumored trove of diaries, paintings, letters, and novel manuscripts from the Brontë family, but she's never seen this alleged estate. Are the clues to finding her family’s legacy hidden within the Brontës' own works?

Where's Anne?

The youngest Brontë sister wrote many excellent novels, including The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which has been hailed as being one of the first feminist novels, but after Anne's early death at age 29, Charlotte prevented its republication, deeming its subject matter "an entire mistake." Perhaps the story hit too close to the bone for Anne's elder sister as it concerns a character who suffers a fatal addiction to alcohol and opium, like their own brother Bramwell. To learn more about this part of the Brontë history, watch the Masterpiece series, To Walk Invisible.

Charlotte's suppression of Anne's greatest work meant that the book disappeared from view for more than a century and is only now getting the recognition it deserves. We did find one Tenant retelling on our shelves, a thriller called The Woman Who Ran by Sam Baker. Our stock on this title is low, but you can add it to your wish list if it's not available.

In any case, we're excited to start curating our next Multiverse collection, but we want to hear from you! Please chime in and let us know which classic you'd like to see featured next.

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