setting: twenty-first century America and nineteenth-century England
age range: young adult
Kirkus starred review:
richly satisfying tale of first and last love transcends its genre --
not another breathless, fan-fiction take on a literary classic but an
intertextual love letter.
Please tell us about your book.
A BREATH OF EYRE is about Emma Townsend, a girl who seeks solace in
books to help her escape her loneliness at her exclusive prep school.
She has few friends and even fewer romantic prospects, unless you count
her crush on her English teacher. But escape soon arrives in a
leather-bound copy of JANE EYRE. Emma
feels a strong sense of kinship with the lonely, headstrong Jane, but
when a lightning strike catapults her into Jane's body and her
nineteenth-century world, Emma is torn between two vastly different
worlds, and two vastly different men.
Moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both,
Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane's story,
or in the unwritten chapters of her own.
What inspired you to write this story?
Ever since I first read JANE EYRE in eleventh grade, it has
remained my favorite book, one I return to again and again and that
never loses its fascination for me.
I've never found another story with such a restrained yet
passionate romance. And Jane is the ultimate heroine: strong,
intelligent, moral, and unafraid to speak her mind. I knew I wanted my
protagonist, Emma, to step into her shoes as she awakens to first love
and discovers her own strength of character.
Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching?
As an English teacher, my main research was to read JANE EYRE numerous times -- not really much of a hardship for me!
The most exciting part of this process was recreating scenes of
JANE EYRE from a modern girl's perspective, wondering how Emma would
respond to Jane's fashion sense, using a chamber pot, being without cell
phone or computer or electricity. I also love researching places in my
attempt to create a fully realized setting. Emma's contemporary world is
a fictional town in eastern Massachusetts, but I based it on a real
place that I adore for its quirky New England charm and atmosphere.
A Breath of Eyre Book Trailer
What were some special challenges you faced while writing A BREATH OF EYRE?
JANE EYRE is one of the most
beloved books in literature, so the idea that I have tampered with a
treasured classic causes me plenty of sleepless nights. Rather than a
straight retelling such as April Linder's JANE, A BREATH OF EYRE is more of a mash-up of a contemporary YA with a classic Gothic novel. It
was a challenge to balance the scenes that take place in Jane's world
with those that take place in protagonist Emma's real world.
While I use some of Brontë's text verbatim, most of the JANE EYRE
scenes have been recreated to show a modern girl's reaction to being
thrust into a nineteenth-century world. But Emma's own story is just as
important as her adventures in JANE EYRE, so two-thirds of the novel
takes place in her modern world. Yet in this case, life imitates art,
and Emma soon realizes she has far more in common with Jane than she
What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?
would hope that my novel might direct young readers to pick up JANE
EYRE to see which elements I borrowed, adapted, or omitted, and of
course, so they could discover for themselves what an amazing and
romantic novel it is.
Beyond any curriculum tie-ins, the book touches on a lot of issues
relevant to today's teens -- self-esteem and identity, depression, loss
of a parent, gender and women's issues, self-expression, the powers of
writing, first love, and most important, finding one's voice.
I think the book would be suitable for middle and high school libraries, English classes, and even mother-daughter book clubs.
Thank you, Eve, for joining us today! If you'd like to learn more about Eve Marie Mont, stop by her website. Eve's next book, A TOUCH OF SCARLET, which leads Emma into the world of Hester Prynne, releases tomorrow.
Caroline Starr Rose spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia
and New Mexico, camping at the Red Sea in one and eating red chile in
the other. She's taught English and social studies to upper elementary
and middle-school students in New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and
Louisiana. Back in New Mexico, Caroline now writes middle-grade novels and picture books full time.
To find teacher's guides, writing activities, and information about author visits, go to her website, stop by her blog, or follow her on Twitter.
Carolee Dean has made numerous appearances as a guest poet/author at
schools, libraries, poetry events, and teacher/library conferences. She
holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and a master's degree in
communicative disorders, and she has spent over a decade working in the
public schools as a
Her first novel, Comfort,was nominated as a Best Book
for Young Adults, was named the Best YA Novel of 2002 by the Texas
Institute of Letters, and was on the TAYSHAS (Texas Library Association)
reading list. Take Me There is a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.
She conducts teacher trainings on inspiring reluctant writers
including "The Secret Language of Stories" and "Random Act of Haiku."
Griffiths Little is the recipient of the Southwest Book Award, The
Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel of 2010, and the author of the highly
acclaimed, The Healing Spell and Circle of Secrets, published by Scholastic Press. Look for her books at the Scholastic Book Fairs, as well as two more forthcoming novels in 2012 and 2013.
lives on a dirt road in a small town by the Rio Grande with her
husband, a robotics engineer and their three sons. Kimberley is a
favorite speaker at schools around the country, presenting "The Creative
Diary", a highly successful writing workshop and has been a speaker at many conferences.