In the cool of the evening, Miss Bates swatted a fist-sized wasps’ nest from the back porch. She’d like to do the same to Gaffney’s novel. No matter, the wasps and it will settle in the vicinity to plague her. Not for a full and missbatesian pedantic post, but a pinata swipe, yes, she’ll manage. Miss Bates has settled into ambivalence’s discomfort zone. Ambivalence in an ordered spinster’s world … not good. Need a lodestone, a familiar one … like Rochester at his neediest, she calls out to “Jane.”
Initial impressions of Gaffney’s influences were of the pastoral BritLit variety: Eliot, Hardy, and Lawrence. What of Miss Bates’s literary arbiter: Brontë’s Jane Eyre? Doesn’t Jane get her say? Lynton Hall is a kind of Thornfield, but that’s not really that important, not in a novel that one commentator astutely identified as possessing a strong sense of community. What if the connection lies in the hero and heroine? What if Christy and Anne were akin to Jane and Rochester in a role reversal? Geoffrey, a “mad man in the attic”? Anne, the seductive and amoral Rochester? Christy, kindred to the honorable, ministering governess? Christy and Anne, like Jane and Rochester, at polar ends of the moral and spiritual spectra making their way to common ground as the narrative unfolds?