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Jane Eyre's Sisters
How Women Live and Write the Heroine's Story
Jody Gentian Bower
ISBN: 9780835609340
Book (Paperback)
Quest Books
$18.95
6 x 9
256 pages
March 1, 2015


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“Jody Gentian Bower’s beautifully written treatise on “the wandering heroine” is impeccably voiced within the pages of Jane Eyre’s Sisters. Her understanding of how female archetypes change cultural patterns over time is filled with historical references. It is the clearest documentation I’ve ever encountered on the concept of the aletis. Her skill as an author makes this a pleasurable read. Bower lays bare the ways in which women’s fiction still struggles in the face of male-dominated criticism. It lays the groundwork for our next generation of women artists to change the cultural matrix again and again. I think this should be required reading for all MFA students – men as well as women.” --Pamela Moore Dionne, author of the forthcoming 'Blue Truth' mystery series

“Provocative, informative, and highly entertaining, Jane Eyre's Sisters is a valuable resource for novelists creating strong and believable female characters.” --Lillian Stewart Carl, author of the 'Jean Fairbairn/Alasdair Cameron' mysteries

Ever since women in the West first started publishing works of fiction, they have written about a heroine who must wander from one place to another as she searches for a way to live the life she wants to live, a life through which she can express her true self creatively in the world. Yet while many have written about the “heroine’s journey,” most of those authors base their models of this journey on Joseph Campbell’s model of the Heroic Quest story or on old myths and tales written down by men, not on the stories that women tell.

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.

Jody Gentian Bower, Ph.D. is a cultural mythologist with a doctorate in Mythological Studies with a Depth Psychology emphasis. She maintains a blog about mythic and archetypal motifs in current culture at jodybower.com/myths-archetypes-in-film/. Currently, she teaches classes and speaks on various topics related to mythology, archetypal studies, religion, psychology, and neuroscience. She also works as a freelance writer, editor, and writing coach. She recently blogging for www.thewellwrittenwoman.com.
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