Jane Eyre's Sisters: How Women Live and Write the Heroine's Story by Jody Gentian Bower has been reviewed in the October 2015 issue of the Midwest Book Review's Reviewer's Bookwatch. The review can be read here or below:
Synopsis: In "Jane Eyre's Sisters: How Women Live and Write the Heroine's Story", cultural mythologist Jody Gentian Bower looks at novels by women (and some men) as well as biographies of women that tell the story of the Aletis, the wandering heroine. She finds a similar pattern in works spanning the centuries, from Lady Mary Wroth and William Shakespeare in the 1600s to Sue Monk Kidd, Suzanne Collins, and Philip Pullman in the current century, including works by Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, Kate Chopin, Virginia Woolf, Doris Lessing, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Alice Walker, to name just a few. She also discusses myths and folk tales that follow the same pattern. Dr. Bower argues that the Aletis represents an archetypal character that has to date received surprisingly little scholarly recognition despite her central role in many of the greatest works of Western fiction. Using an engaging, down-to-earth writing style, Dr. Bower outlines the stages and cast of characters of the Aletis story with many examples from the literature. She discusses how the Aletis story differs from the hero's quest, how it has changed over the centuries as women gained more independence, and what heroines of novels and movies might be like in the future. She gives examples from the lives of real women and scatters stories that illustrate many of her points throughout the book. In the end, she concludes, authors of the Aletis story use their imagination to give us characters who serve as role models for how a woman can live a full and free life.
Critique: With extraordinarily insightful commentary and analysis, "Jane Eyre's Sisters: How Women Live and Write the Heroine's Story" is an impressive work of seminal scholarship and an inherently absorbing read from beginning to end. Enhanced with the inclusion of ten pages of Notes, six categorical bibliographies, and a seventeen page Index, "Jane Eyre's Sisters" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Literary Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Jane Eyre's Sisters" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).