In 1874 Meggie McMurphy changes her name to Rose Rochester (after the Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre) and flees Boston to Colorado to escape her past and take up a teaching position in a remote mountain town outside Denver. Like the heroine of the Bronte classic, Meggie/Rose is an ill-used orphan. Meggie holds her connection to her favorite story as a lifeline to her sanity, for she is still being stalked by the rapist who left her for dead in Boston, and now knows she’s alive.
Into her life comes Ethan Rourke, a successful westerner with scars of his own—he has closed himself up since the death of his birth family and a sweetheart years before. He and Rose meet during one of her sanity lapsed episodes, and she continues to be a puzzle to him, but one he both admires and seeks to protect. A business associate is determined to take his life at about the same time Rose’s rapist descends.
Although admirably seeking to breathe life into the seduced and murdered victims of many a 19th-century penny dreadful, in this novel Meggie faints, falls down and forgets way more often than seems credible before she mysteriously finds her spine. Suffering from endless introductions and repetitions, Meggie’s Remains could have used a rescue of its own: from a good editor.