**spoiler alert** I'm a HARSH taskmaster on retellings of my favorite books, but this one has changed my mind. Maybe you can't DO a bad Jane Eyre rete...more**spoiler alert** I'm a HARSH taskmaster on retellings of my favorite books, but this one has changed my mind. Maybe you can't DO a bad Jane Eyre retelling? Well, I'm sure you can; that's not a dare.
I could not wait to get back to this book when I put it down--which is what notched it up from the solid four stars I would have given it anyway.
The thing I probably appreciated most was the exploration of the attraction between St. John and Jane. It's so obviously, subtextually there in the original book, but most productions and retellings either ignore it, gloss over it, dismiss it, or don't know it's there. To all appearances, this is a re-visioning of the book from a careful reader and a devoted JANE EYRE fan. This book remains emotionally true to the original, and that's the number one thing I want from a book like this.
Ultimately, this is a pretty straightforward retelling, set in modern times; substitute "rock star" for "gentleman" and I think you know, well, pretty much everything.(less)
A very satisfying conclusion to the series. I would have LOVED these books when I was 9, and had all sorts of Romantic (not romantic) fantasies about...moreA very satisfying conclusion to the series. I would have LOVED these books when I was 9, and had all sorts of Romantic (not romantic) fantasies about being Conn's sister or something. My only regret is that they weren't three times as long and twice as involved. There's a great world here, and lots of good emotional stuff that would stick to your ribs throughout a lengthier novel.(less)
Full disclosure: I know Stephanie. I've known her online for a while, met her in person once, and we're both Michigan girls. The difference is, I was...moreFull disclosure: I know Stephanie. I've known her online for a while, met her in person once, and we're both Michigan girls. The difference is, I was moved away from Michigan during my childhood and came back--and I married another Michigander--and she left Michigan and married a guy from BRITAIN. And lives there now. Not that I don't adore my husband, but that used to be my childhood fantasy!
So, maybe, since she's living my childhood dream and we're from the same state and we've known each other a while, maybe that biases me. But I don't think so. I'm a tough critic. And I loved this book.
First, there's the Regency setting. I've read enough Regencies in my time where the Empire-waist dresses are just so much window-dressing that it is simply day-making to read one that actually evokes the proper era--not just through details of dress and material culture but behavior and mores.
Now for my second full disclosure: I started trying to write Regencies when I was just a little older than Kat--and failed miserably. I couldn't get my highwayman character who cut off his hand with a butter knife to escape the authorities to work out, you see, and perhaps this is because I thought the butter knife thing showed great spirit and derring-do and didn't see at all the comedic possibilities that lay therein. But the point is, I had a thing for highwaymen, too. Who doesn't, once they read "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes, which we did in Mrs. Gossett's eighth grade English class?
Which leads to the second reason to love this book: There are the highwaymen! This book has highwaymen! And while at least one of them *spoilers* the *spoiler* about as *spoiler* as my highwayman did with the butter knife, there are highwayman antics to spare.
Third: Gothic villains. Need I say more?
Fifth: Kat herself. I totally saw myself in Kat. I was such a mouthy kid! I love that in a book! It makes me feel like I'm not alone in the universe. I highly identified with her. I cheer for stoic characters and all? But the ones who get in trouble from talking too much are definitely my people.
Finally, the cover. The gorgeous deep teal and the sparkly little stars on the cover are just beautiful. I know that doesn't bespeak the quality of writing inside, but I found myself petting those little stars a few times. (less)
**spoiler alert** Another addition to my Jane Eyre retellings shelf. I'm hugely biased because of the source material, and full disclaimer, I also kno...more**spoiler alert** Another addition to my Jane Eyre retellings shelf. I'm hugely biased because of the source material, and full disclaimer, I also know the author and enjoy her greatly as a person.
That said... great book. Full on Jane Eyre retelling awesomeness, dark and compelling, with a dish of Tam Lin on the side.
Jane has survived a fairy war; the images of fighting the fairy war are extremely powerful and evocative. World-building in high concept scenarios so often lets me down, but this was both subtle and strong. The fey are odd and amazing, and fascinatingly engender a kind of technological revolution far ahead of the natural order of things.
But I address these JE retellings on their JEness, not their own merits (ridiculously, but we all have our bears to cross).
This version of the story gives Jane a fully realized family past. She has a living sister, and memories of her mother and brother. This is an orphan Jane but not on the same level as our original heroine. She's a governess/teacher, as is proper for a Jane Eyre retelling, but Gateshead is a battlefield where Jane fought and her brother died; and Lowood is a forge where people afflicted with fairy curses are "rehabilitated" by fitting them with cold iron prosthetics--hence the name, Ironskin.
Edward Rochart is far more Tam Lin than he is Rochester, in my mind; I did not see a whole lot of Rochester's over the top adoration for his Jane, but more of Tam Lin's purposeful and vaguely cynical use of Janet. Am I reading too much into that? Maybe. Rochart was not my favorite version of Rochester, nor my favorite character in this book, but Jane more than made up for it through one simple authorial choice: rage.
Jane's fairy curse is rage. She's been scarred, and the scar gives her rage and radiates rage toward everyone else. When she's actually angry, the rage intensifies the anger. Iron stops it, but it's poisoning her internally.
One of the things that movie adaptations so often fail with regard to Jane Eyre is adequately conveying the roiling inner turmoil of Jane, which includes the, well, rage that lives within her and causes everything from her behavior as a child in the Red Room on up through her declaration as Rochester's equal through her denial of St. John's offer of loveless marriage. It is often mistaken for passion, that rage, and that's not wrong; but it's passion in the traditional sense of the word, it's the suffering Jane endures, born of the mountain of injustices she's been buried under. That raging Jane is the Jane I understood, subtextually, when I first read Jane Eyre when I was 13; and it's the raging Jane who is so often glossed over in reinterpretations, adaptations, analysis, and commentary.
It was really nice to see her here, in Connolly's version.(less)
I can't even tell you how much I loved this book. It's both fun and touching, and completely hilarious, and Gratuity Tucci are two words I like to jus...moreI can't even tell you how much I loved this book. It's both fun and touching, and completely hilarious, and Gratuity Tucci are two words I like to just sort of repeat to myself. Happy Mouse Kingdom and the English Puffins ride totally won me over--along with an alien named JLo and a cat named Pig.
I know that I was not a huge fan of books like this when I was a kid, and am actually not a huge fan of books like this now--and by "this," I mean, highly quirky kid books. But this one has some compelling factors. 1) Alien invasion. 2) A main character who is both exasperated by and involved in the world--but not wholly buying and not wholly rejecting it. Perfect. 3) A strong, forwward-moving plot--often in quirky books, stuff happens and it's just quirky for the sake of quirky.(less)
This book has some great things for the historical fiction writer (and I'm sure other people, too). The time spans discussed are broad, with papers on...moreThis book has some great things for the historical fiction writer (and I'm sure other people, too). The time spans discussed are broad, with papers on the early, central and late Middle Ages. My focus of research at this time is 1133 Germany, so it was really helpful.
Chapters of particular interest to my time period and in general:
"The Status of the Squire: the Northern Evidence" "The Game of Chess: An Aspect of Medieval Knightly Culture" (absolutely non-essential for my research today, but utterly engrossing and story-idea-generating) "Knights and Knighthood in Germany in the Central Middle Ages" "The Knight, his Arms and Armour in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries"
And in general, the rest of the chapters were good, if not directly relevant to what I'm researching right now. (less)