Saturday 17th June 23
I have just finished the Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. It’s a prequel to Jane Eyre, Bronte. The back story of Mr Rochester’s first wife. Having finished the one I decided to re-read Jane Eyre in the light of the Wide Sargasso Sea. What a difference a back story makes. Jane is suddenly dark, a little self-indulgent. Mr Rochester dangerous and clever, but as innocent of love as any man. Jane seems to treat love as a lion tamer might a lion that they’ve never seen before. My wonderful friend and editor was always asking me about the back story of my characters, she even insisted I write them out. It’s an interesting and really useful exercise, though I thought at the time I was clear about them. But back stories are just that – the stories that add depth and meaning, colour to the characters. Most authors probably don’t even use the detail contained but if you have it in your head as you write, the person seems to come to life.
My son asked me why I didn’t seem to like my dad much? That I never said anything nice about him. Which is interesting, because I actually adored my dad, and would have done anything for him. But as with all relationships it’s not that simple. Perhaps I ought to think a little about my own back story, get it organised in my own mind so that if the children ask about their grandparents again, I might know what to say!