Welcome to the Saturday Spotlight, a weekly feature hosted by yours truly and celebrates authors. Focusing on Indie, self-published and debut authors, we love them all. This week I have the pleasure of introducing readers to:
CHRISSY BREEN KEFFER
~author of An American Heir~
Sex Scenes, Religion and Jane Eyre
by Chrissy Breen Keffer August 2011
When I was confronted with the decision to let Bea and Ethan (my Jane and Rochester) go to bed, I was torn. On one hand, a modern couple in their shoes would most likely end up in the sack. On the other hand, it felt wrong. Not that my own morality forbade it, but it felt like Bea's did. She didn't go to bed with him just because it was wrong (her morality is, perhaps, more refined than my own), but also because she didn't trust him. There was something about his proposal, etc., that made her uneasy: something about it seemed more like a business acquisition than a proposal.
Let me also be frank: I'd be no more comfortable penning a sex scene between Bea and Ethan than I'd be penning a sex scene between my husband and me. Maybe I'm chicken, or maybe I'm repressed, but it didn't feel comfortable or organic to me.
Could a modern Jane and Rochester have sex? Well, this is really two different questions. One, would Jane have sex in the middle of the book, before she runs away? Two, would Jane have sex at the end, when she finds Rochester, but before they are married? My answer to both is, "maybe." The author of any rewrite must toe a precarious line: for his or her Jane to submit to having sex with Rochester means that she (Jane) submits to him (Rochester) wholly. She can't have any doubts or illusions. Jane is, if nothing else, resolute; she wouldn't have sex on a whim. Therefore, it is unlikely that she would have sex with him mid-book (she certainly has doubts and hesitations). She might, however, have sex with him at the end of the story, though at that point it's a fait accompli; they're almost as good as married. In fact, they seem to marry straight-away.
Could there be a sex scene in the original? A really base part of me wants to say "yes" - the same part that wishes there were some Rochester equivalent to Darcy romping through a lake in a white chemise (in the BBC / Colin Firth movie version, of course). But there's a nagging sense of morality - the sense that Rochester needs to prove he's worthy of her love (and sex). As soon he does, at the end of the book, then all bets are off. But before the clothes come off, Jane informs us, "reader, I married him." Jane ultimately wants marriage - not just because she's tied to a strict moral code, but (also) because that is the ultimate testament of Rochester's love.
At the risk of sounding religious alarms, I have to say that I view Rochester's love for Jane through a religious lens. In the original, the turning point of the story happens in a prayer: as soon as Rochester humbles himself to God (and others) he becomes worthy of Jane. Indeed, his voice is carried miraculously across the moor as he prays for Jane. In my adaptation, Ethan also reaches out to Bea in prayer. It is in his humility and repentance that he is granted forgiveness. Only then can he get his love.
* On that note, the whole book strikes a religious chord to me: my Bea is named for Dante's Beatrice, who leads him (Dante) out of hell to salvation. Similarly, I see Jane as leading Rochester out of hell to salvation.
Wow- those were great thoughts, thanks for sharing Chrissy, I myself adore Jane Eyre, its one of my all time favorites so I tend to be tough on any retelling of her story. I recently read a young adult modern version of my lovely heroine, who falls in love with her Rochester rock star, who drops the F-bomb constantly and hops into bed with plenty of women including Jane....while the story itself was excellent, I had I hard time seeing the classic couple modernized with sex and drugs. Personally I think a taste full love scene in a modern day setting would be okay, but raunching it up to appeal to people who need more spice....not something Im crazy about for these two characters. After reading your thoughts Im left with my own question: When there's so much erotica and sex in so many books, why must authors take liberty's in pimping out classic characters?
Thanks for being on today and I cant wait to read your vision of Jane!
Find out more about Chrissy and purchase her book Here!!
Thanks to the lovely Ms. Keffer, today I have two Kindle/Nook copy's of An American Heir to give away. This is open to all readers, to enter please just leave a comment and a way to reach you.
Thanks and Happy Reading!!
An American Heir by Christine Keffer
An American Heir: A Modern Retelling of Jane Eyre lifts Charlotte Brontë's classic from nineteenth century England and plants it firmly on twenty-first century American soil. Bea Stephens is the modern counterpoint to Jane: a smart and independent woman whose intelligence far surpasses her means. Hoping to earn some money so she can finish college, Bea takes a job as a nanny for Ethan Stuart, a mercurial hotel magnate. While Bea and Ethan come from different backgrounds - practically different worlds - the distance between them is ultimately bridged by their love for one another. Read An American Heir, and meet a modern Jane.
Photo Credit- Jane Eyre- 2011 Movie Still (cc) Focus Films