Jane Eyre transported to 21st century in Lindner’s Jane

Jane by April Lindner; published by Poppy, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2010; 371 pages.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC (advance reading copy) provided for free by the publisher.  The publication information is subject to change.  The book was released in October 2010.

Jane Moore is damaged.  The youngest of three, she was abused by her brother, ignored by her mother, and belittled by her sister.  Only her father gave her a bit of attention, but he was rarely home.  For these reasons, she prefers her own company or the companionship of books in a quiet library.  When her parents die, Jane is forced to leave college because, once again, she is damaged; her parents left tangible goods to her sister and brother and worthless stocks to her.  Is it any wonder that her self-esteem is negligible?  With no prospects, she applies for a job as a nanny.  For once, her idiosyncrasies work in her favor: She is placed in the home of a reclusive rock star to care for his 5 year old daughter.  Attraction becomes mutual and romance blossoms.  But long-kept secrets find a way to damage Jane again.  She escapes for awhile, but a documentary about the rock star might change Jane’s mind and her life.


Disclaimer: I read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte once a year.  Every year.  I relate to Jane.  She is my favorite female character…ever. So I read this retelling of my favorite story with a mix of anticipation and trepidation.  Could a contemporary author really do justice to this complicated character?  Overall, I’d say yes.  Bringing the societal norms from more than 150 years ago  into current culture couldn’t have been easy for Lindner.  Admittedly, some of the plot lines were forced but I still found them believable.  Because…

  • There are still young women who have to take less than ideal jobs to avoid homelessness.
  • There are women today that have a strong moral compass but poor self-esteem.
  • There are people who think they are outclassed by famous folk (I get uncontrollably giddy about meeting authors; why?  Because I envy their creativity.  So, yeah, I get the class distinction between nanny and rock star).
  • There are still women who fear an ex-boyfriend and act irrationally because of it.
  • And, opposites still attract.

In fact, I liked that Lindner made the effort to mirror the original book and plot.  She even captured Jane’s narrative voice (rather formal yet heartfelt).  There was some comfort in that.  I read it looking for how the author would deal with the next plot twist (especially St. John).  I’m so familiar with the original that I don’t know that I could have read this had the author not followed Bronte’s blueprint.  For those new to Jane’s story, I think the story of Jane Moore will be engaging.

My hope is that the modern love story will encourage the next generation to pick up my favorite book of all time.  Maybe they’ll read it once a year, too.  And then maybe they’ll read Wuthering Heights.  And then maybe the original Pride and Prejudice (without the zombies).  Speaking of Wuthering Heights, when will it be retold?  With books trending toward the supernatural, that one’s a natural!

By the way, the Poppy website has a quiz, “Which Classic Literary Heroine Are You?” here: http://pickapoppy.com/page/which-classic-literary-heroine.  Fun!

4P     4Q     Grade Level: 10-12+

Cover Art:  I pulled the cover art from the Poppy website dedicated to the book (http://pickapoppy.com/page/3106733:Page:360336).  Much more interesting than the ARC, but it reminded me more of Wuthering Heights than Jane Eyre.  I think the dark drama will attract the right audience to the book, however.

From Reading List: ARC (advance reading copy)

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