Monday, January 24, 2011
Jane, written by debut author April Lindner, is a modern-day YA retelling of Charlotte Bronte's classic novel Jane Eyre.
Jane Moore finds herself in a difficult situation. Her parents sudden death has left her mourning and penniless, forced to drop out of the esteemed college that she'd worked so hard to get into. Not sure what she's going to do once the college forces her out of the dorm rooms, and facing the reality of homelessness, Jane desperately tries to seek out a job.
Being a nanny was never something that striked Jane as a career choice, but it sort of falls into her lap. She lands the position of the nanny at Thornfield Park, the estate of the famous, brooding rock star Nico Rathburn, who's on the edge of a new tour and album.
Despite being plain and completely inexperienced in romance, nineteen-year-old Jane and scandal-ridden Nico seem to have a connection - and though his unpredictable moods are impossible to decipher, Jane finds herself involuntarily drawn to him.
But there are secrets and mystery at Thornfield Park. Abnormal-sounding laughs echoing from the forbidden upstairs stairwell, a suspicious fire started in Nico's bedroom, and questions stubbornly unanswered. Jane finds herself struggling between her intense feelings for Nico, and her own personal sense of values. How can she decide between the two?
As a huge fan of Jane Eyre, I was quite eager to read Jane. Especially because I'd heard that April Lindner was faithful to the original. Which is happily very true -
Jane vibrates with atmosphere and a quiet, yet heavily mysterious, restraint right from the get-go. Jane is relatable and likable with her unassuming personality and grief. The new Thornfield Park that April Lindner has created is a great contemporary version, oozing sophistication and secrets.
I was blown-away by the way Lindner gave Jane Moore a childhood of cruelty and a sore lack of love - just as our beloved Jane Eyre. Though she created this past in different circumstances, the inner pain of Jane is both understandable and heartbreaking, making Jane all the more haunting and engrossing, setting up a main character that is as courageous, soft spoken, sweet, and strong as her classic counterpart.
Moody in the best way, hypnotic and mesmerizing with its hush-hush passions and unspoken meanings, Jane had me flipping pages fast. And the gruff, flashy, inscrutable, seductiveness of Nico clashes with a sublime appeal with Jane's somber, polite, delightfully straightforward, in-the-shadows personality, to create an intensity in the characters and writing that is palpable.
April Lindner made me very happy. She took a beloved novel and simply retold it in the present day. In keeping with the original, she left Jane to be what it is at its very core: a story of two damaged people that fall painfully in love, with all the bruises and euphoria that go with it.
Jane is saturated in breathtaking statements that take the reader aback, creepy, frightening moments that keep you glued to the pages (even when you know what's going on, like me), and a constant sense of torment and raw emotion that is beautiful in an understated way.
After reading some Amazon reviews of Jane I found a common thread: a large majority of readers who loved Jane Eyre loved Jane, those who didn't like Jane Eyre didn't like Jane. However, I want to encourage you to read it either way. And if you haven't read Jane Eyre at all, read Jane! It'll be a little introduction to Jane Eyre for you. April Lindner has truly honored Charlotte Bronte's tale of love, healing, and self-awareness. Though there were a couple liberties I didn't adore in Jane, I overwhelmingly found it to be a lovely contemporary vision.
To wrap up, Jane is wildly romantic, poignant, sensitive and rough-around-the-edges. It is a fantastic, heart-rending debut from an author I will now watch.