Jane by April Lindner

24 Jan
Show me anything to do with Jane Eyre and I’m guaranteed to like it. Charlotte Bronte’s classic tale of gothic love between an orphaned, plain governess and the temperamental Mr. Rochester is extremely satisfying; not only is the writing beautiful, but Jane’s journey of self-discovery makes you root for her eventual happiness all the more. She may be one of the most put-upon heroines of all time: beaten, ignored, underfed, abandoned, and alone, Jane comes to rely on her inner strength and beauty and shuns the superficial and shallow. That’s not to say she’s prissy – no, she loves to eat and paint, and she comes to learn how to love. April Lindner made a good choice by basing her YA novel Jane on Bronte’s classic story. There are some spoilers in this review, but if you’ve read Jane Eyre, you already know what’s going to happen anyway.

Jane is a young college student who has recently lost her parents, and with no money, she goes to work as a governess. Jane becomes the governess to Nico Rathburn’s young daughter Maddy, a precocious little thing who only needs attention and a firm hand. Nico is a world-famous rock star with a questionable past who is planning a comeback tour. As Jane and Nico get to know each other at his secluded country estate, a love blossoms between them. Their pursuit of that love uncovers some very unpleasant secrets, and Jane is left to figure out how to balance her love of Nico with her love for herself.

Lindner kept very close to the original story line, only changing a few little things here and there to keep it modern. Jane herself is perhaps a little more feisty, but her directness and plain-speaking are the same. I loved how some of the conversations between her and Nico Rathburn (our new Mr. Rochester) really echoed exactly how Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester spoke in the original version – that’s not an easy task. And oh, the baddies are still so bad. Man, I really wanted more comeuppance for the villains, but again, Lindner is faithful to the original. Jane’s eventual happiness is worth so much more after you read how devalued and mistreated she is for most of her life.

Ok, seriously, spoiler time from now on!

I think Lindner did a valiant job of justifying why Nico didn’t divorce his wife Bibi after their marriage turned so horribly wrong, but it didn’t ring 100% true for me. Guilt can be a powerful motivator, but when he realized he was in love with Jane, I found it hard to believe that, in our modern times with its easy divorces, he wouldn’t have gone through with the divorce rather than try to commit bigamy and lie to Jane. Still, I wasn’t about to be Debbie Downer and let it jerk me out of the story, so I moved past my doubts. Also, substituting the class divide between Jane Eyre’s governess position and Mr. Rochester’s employer position by making Nico a rock star was a great idea – to me, it made the jump from their relationship as employee/employer to lovers even more dramatic.

I expressed a little doubt when I mentioned I was going to read Jane because I wasn’t sure how some of the modernizations would work. However, after reading Jane, I think Lindner did a great job of staying true to the original while imparting her own flavor. Considering the way I tore through it in one day, I’d say it’s a nice way to spend a rainy day.

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