So, last night was the third episode of the BBC's latest adaption (by Sandy Welch) of Jane Eyre. The first episode was rushed and underwhelming, if stylish, with little chance for you to emotionally engage with the important early scenes at the brutal Lowood school. On the plus side, Ruth Wilson captured Jane wonderfully, but Toby Stephens's Edward Rochester didn't convince me at all (too handsome? too young? not sure). I missed the second episode because the telly was broke, but due to the combined power of me, Mrs Book, and the In-Laws, the telly is now fixed and last night we (well, me and Mrs B, not the In-Laws) settled down to watch the latest installment.
Costume dramas are the epitome of middlebrow entertainment, but I'm still a sucker for a good one. Normally, they simply remind me that the novel is a hundred times better, or bring my attention back to a "classic" that I've somehow conspired not yet to read. Last night's episode was well-paced and Toby Stephens stepped up to the plate with a much better performance than he put in earlier on. He's still a bit wooden, mind. Ruth Wilson was inspired.
Tonight the fun continues with an adaption, on BBC4, of Jean Rhys's Jane Eyre-prequel (and post-colonial theory favourite) Wide Sargasso Sea which "paints a rather different story of Mr Rochester's first wife" ...
Other adaption news: just this month Viking (Penguin USA) released The Illustrated Jane Eyre. Its a very curious thing. Its the full text of Charlotte Bronte's novel with drawings and illustrations (some on separate colour plates, some as full page black and white chapter openings, some, like marginalia, within the pages of the story itself) by cult, goth comic-artist Dame Darcy (best known for Meat Cake [Fantagraphics]; think Tim Burton or Emily the Strange). I'm not quite sure who Viking think they'll newly reach by scribbling on Bronte's book but, perhaps, all those Goths doing Bronte for A-level (or its American post-16 exam equivalent) need "darkly elegant illustrations" to "draw back the novel’s curtain, revealing the depths of human depravity, despair, and ultimate redemption" therein.