Jane by April Lindner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, an iconic rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer, and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is tested by a torturous secret from his past.
Part irresistible romance and part darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.
My take: I am still puzzled why I checked this book out of the library. What's my favorite book? Jane Eyre. How many times has it been adapted into another book form or movie? Very few. Have I seen any of the adaptations? Absolutely not. Don't mess with my Jane Eyre.
Who doesn't like Pride and Prejudice? It's sweet and feels good. Many (shallow) people love the fictitious Mr. Darcy. But the true literary lovers are drawn to the brooding Mr. Rochester. At least he has depth and the ability to love deeply, as shown by the way he would not divorce his wife. And the story so tragically uplifting. The protagonist sloshing through the tough stuff to raise herself above her circumstances to become the heroine.
I was intrigued by modernizing Jane Eyre but had much trepidation when Mr. Rochester becomes Nico Rathburn, rock star and is turned into a Young Adult book. Not that I don't enjoy a good YA book because I do but I also find far too much self-absorption when told first person and Jane Eyre is not self-absorbed.
I was tickled by the adaptation and understood why the author chose to create Mr. Rathburn as a rock star - she had to create an enormous class difference. The author stayed very true to Charlotte Brontë's characters and story. So much so that the book evoked the same emotions that Jane Eyre evokes in me. Kind of a yearning sadness that can only be satiated with a happy ending. But not too happy. That would ruin the story.
Jane Moore is a serious and somewhat plain 19 year old girl who has recently been orphaned by parents who didn't love her as much as her siblings. She's bummed about their deaths and somewhat scarred because of her childhood but accepts it as part of what makes her uniquely Jane and moves on. She's broke and out of options. She's calm and rational and mostly unaffected by pop culture, preferring to do her duties and enjoy nature and/or paint. She becomes a nanny for rock star Nico Rathburn.
Rathburn is very human and not as iconic as his public persona. He has a 5 year old daughter from a wife who is missing, although if you know the Jane Eyre story, you know she is close by. I actually found the character of Rochester/Rathburn better developed in this book than in Jane Eyre, although his personality is very consistent with Rochester. Not only that, but the mysterious vanishing wife is very well explored and explained with a plausible mental illness.
I found myself looking forward to the next portion of the story - when Jane discovers the secret, when she runs away, when she discovers her distant cousins (which the cousins part is omitted), what happens to the wife, Jane's discoveries, and injuries sustained. All of it completely consistent with my beloved Jane Eyre. Disturbingly consistent is River, the missionary about to embark to Haiti. My frustration with Jane's stubborn streak and willingness to follow this socially backward yet handsome and noble man was the same as Jane Eyre.
I still love the ending of Jane Eyre better than Jane. However, I found the story, the characters, the detail to consistency with Charlotte Brontë's rendition and the ending to be very, very satisfying.
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