Pseudo-Romance Book Club: Behind a Mask


Following up on our discussion of The Odd Women, we’re going to tackle Louisa May Alcott’s Behind a Mask (1866). (Yes, I also own two paper copies of it.) Behind a Mask is a novella of about 40K words or a 100ish pages, which Alcott published under the pseudonym A.M. Barnard. It’s essentially a feminist retelling of Jane Eyre, but I don’t want to say much more because you don’t want to read any spoilers. Trust me: it’s tremendous fun.

I can’t find as many e-editions, but it is free at Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo (I can’t find free editions at B&N or Google Play). But fear not! At Project Gutenberg, you can download a range of file formats and then side-load them onto your device. If you want to add it on Goodreads, you can do so here.

Because it’s short, I think we can get away with a single discussion though I wouldn’t be surprised if it runs more than an hour. I propose Monday, June 27, at 9 P.M. EST. I’m not good at pithy hashtags; leave a comment if you can come up with anything good. I’ll see you then!

ETA: Just a note to say “retelling of Jane Eyre” is probably too strong. Alcott has clearly read Jane Eyre, and I feel like Behind a Mask is concerned with that book’s problem: how does a woman who is “poor, obscure, plain and little” make her way in the world? Both Jean and Jane are governesses, they both have multiple suitors, and some other scenarios occur in both. But Jean ain’t Jane, and thus her story has a different ending. I can’t wait to talk about it with you in June.

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