There is this quote by John Lennon that I have written on the inside of my journal. It says:
“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”
Like most of the world (or should I say…the people who inhabit it) I am a very busy person. If you don’t believe me, take a quick look at the steady decline in the number of posts I make each week. I myself will always find time to read. It is my decompression mechanism. Without it you might see my face flash across your five o’clock news. It may be at 2am when I dive into a novel, but I dive all the same. Others (and by others I speak, of course, of the non-insomniactic population) don’t always have that luxury. So… whatever are you to do? Well, I’ll tell you. Read episodes.
No, I’m not talking about television manuscripts (though I have been known to do that from time to time.) I’m referring to literature’s newest craze in which an author breaks one complete story down into several bite sized pieces. (Think of it as your favorite TV show’s winter break episode. Over…and over…and over again. Fun right?!)
Unlike full length novels (in which an author has pages and pages to build their story) episodic literature HAS TO pack a punch. And, it has to do it fast. (You aren’t going to watch an episode of Game of Thrones if it’s a big pile of dull cakes covered in dull sauce are you? Hm…maybe that was a bad example.) In short, the author must be on their game. (You see how I did that? Game of Thrones, on their game…oh nevermind.)
Episodes generally fall somewhere between novelette length (7,500 – 17,500 words) and novella length (17,500-40k words) and will only take you (yes…even you, the slowest of readers) 1-2 hours to knock out. Making them PERFECT for busy people (who need an aspect of life that ISN’T planned out.) Read an episode a week for 4-5 weeks and before you know it… BAM! you have a full novel under your belt without feeling the pressure of a 500 page whopper staring you in the face. (Though I’m merely speculating, I don’t start convulsing until I see page 800.)
Even better, finding a series that combines the convenience of quick with the quality of classic.
Kid you not, in the five years I have been reading, writing, and sharing my love for all things biblio, I have never happened upon as many deer in the headlights looks as when I mention classic literature. (And believe me…I do. I throw my classic loving bragging board around like it’s the great white hope.) So when L.K. Rigel approached me about her episodic retelling of Jane Eyre (a combination I instantly deeming brilliant) I knew I had to take a look.
And now, since all of you know what episodes are…let me tell you about one of the best ones out there. (Oh damn! I already gave it away. *wink wink*)
Jane Eyre is not an easy book to read. Most classics aren’t (which is where the horrified look comes from.) And while Rigel chose to maintain the integrity of the story (for example: using entire phrases from Bronte’s original) she also managed to breathe new life into a story few have managed to muddle through.
First, let’s talk a little about Jane Eyre as a whole. Besides being blatantly gothic, it is incredibly erotic. No, Bronte didn’t talk about red rooms of pain, or even describe the feel of certain parts of the male anatomy (have to admit I’m kinda happy about that) but believe me when I say…it’s there. Chastely (if that even makes sense) but there all the same.
In Rigel’s retelling, (My Mr. Rochester) she let’s the freak flag fly. (Sorry, I’ve always wanted to put that in a review.) Where Bronte hints, Rigel explores. The tension felt in Bronte’s Eyre, is ten fold in Rigel’s. There is talk of birth control (a big fat no no in Bronte’s time.) Private sitting room conversations are made public. Touches become more intimate, and looks become more brazen. “My Mr. Rochester” isn’t in the realm of New Adult (despite my description of it) instead it’s the version all classic lovers know was buried behind an era’s expectations.
Admittedly, I was a little thrown by the “new world” creation. (The story takes place in the future, though her “community” chooses to live a simpler “old world” life. AKA: the original Bronte setting.) And at times, I felt the divide unnecessary. (Cause I’m a big fat grumpy cat) But the guts of the story. Jane and Rochester’s flit through life, love and the admission of secrets was so solid I was able to look past it. (In case you were wondering, yes… I did find the references to Harry Potter being the devil’s work rather amusing. 10 points for Gryffindor!!)
To date I am on episode 4 (ok, more like waiting not so patiently for episode 4 to be released.) but I can tell you I have never been more impressed by Rigel’s work than I am with this series. Not only does it offer hesitant people a new way to enjoy a classic, lovely, and moving story, but it does it in such a smart way that you almost forget you are diving into a 167 year old rock. They are masterfully plotted. Expertly ended. And thoroughly enjoyable.
If you loved the original you will lose your head over these. If you are the person who hasn’t the time, but has the desire…this is the perfect format for you. For everyone else…why not try something that is both old AND new.
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: You’re never too old to learn new tricks.