In this modern-day retelling of Jane Eyre, Jane Moore is a penniless student who's just had to drop out of college and take a job as a nanny working f...moreIn this modern-day retelling of Jane Eyre, Jane Moore is a penniless student who's just had to drop out of college and take a job as a nanny working for rock star Nico Rathburn.
I love Jane Eyre. I love Mr. Rochester. The idea of this book intrigued me. How exactly would all that Gothic deliciousness translate to the modern age? Reasonably well.
But first, what didn't work. For me, anyway.
For my taste, this book was actually a little too faithful to the original. It was like there was a list of the major events and they were dutifully checked off. Jane as an orphan? Check. Older brother figure locking her in a room overnight? Check. A dog named (Co)Pilot? Check. A chance meeting where Mr. Rochester/Rathburn almost plows over Jane and they argue because she doesn't know who he is? Check. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I somehow would have preferred the story to veer off in its own direction more. I know Jane Eyre. I want to read Jane Moore's story.
And then there's the whole...does it even count as a spoiler if you're talking about a well-known twist from a classic? I'll be safe. If you know the story of Jane Eyre, read on.
(view spoiler)[The wife in the attic. There's no reason for that to happen now. Back in Jane Eyre's day, once married, always married. You didn't have many options to get rid of a crazy wife. Nowadays, not so much. The author did what she could, which is definitely more creative than anything I would have thought of, but I still didn't buy it. I couldn't even quite decide exactly why Nico kept her locked up. He said it was because he didn't want to see her locked in an asylum. OK. I'll try to buy that one. Even though my head says, "He could pay for the nicest place in the world, or at least keep her somewhere that she's not going to burn the house down around his ears." But then Jane's going on about the unexpected tenderness he shows toward Bibi (the wife). So is he keeping her around because he still loves her? And there's an element of him feeling guilt about getting her hooked on drugs and possibly setting this all off. I know people's reasons for doing anything are complicated but this felt too complicated. Still, I think it's the best anyone could do. (hide spoiler)]
It was fun to think of Mr. Rochester as a rock star. In my head he became Jon Bon Jovi. That's just fine by me. I'll let him dance through my imagination anytime.
I've spent more time on what I had a problem with than what I liked. I did enjoy the concept of the whole book. I would never have attempted to move that story into the present, for the big spoiler-y reason above. Hats off to April Lindner for tackling it and handling it as well as anyone possibly could.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Hannah Gray is now an old woman, reliving the summer when she was seventeen and in love. She's revisiting her grandparents' house on the coast of Main...moreHannah Gray is now an old woman, reliving the summer when she was seventeen and in love. She's revisiting her grandparents' house on the coast of Maine and re-reading her journal from that summer. She was fighting with her stepmother, her father was back home in Boston, and the house they had rented was haunted but Hannah was the only one who could see that. She eventually stumbles on the tale of a gruesome murder with ties to the house when it was located on an island out on the bay. In a dual narrative, the book contains Hannah's journal and relates the events surrounding the murder.
I really just grabbed this out of a box of books that I borrowed from my aunt a long time ago and haven't finished reading. I glanced at the back and saw something about Maine and decided that sounded good to me. I was surprised to get a murder and a ghost!
Don't get the idea that this is a horror novel. There's a lot more going on here than that. The ghost seems to serve more as an illustration of the ways we hurt each other in countless ways, both big and small, and the way that bitterness and anger cause effects that ripple out from us and down through generations.
I liked Hannah and thought her parts captured that feeling of being young and in love and knowing that the world is too small to contain everything you feel. She just wants to do what she wants but she has her stepmother constantly trying to clip her wings. And Conary, the boy she loves--he's fabulous. I got the feeling that he could be a heart breaker but he's tender and caring and charming and almost perfect with Hannah.
The story about the Haskells and their miserable lives together is horrifying. They just about hate each other. Well, they really do hate each other. Claris and Danial are married in spite of her parents' misgivings. They see Danial more truly than Claris although she'd never admit it. Claris thinks his quiet demeanor hides a deep soul when really it hides a man who just wants to work and be hateful and not much else. The two warp their children and even drag a schoolteacher who is boarding with them down into their spite and hate. They're one of those couples that seems happiest when they're tearing each other apart. They were exhausting.
The harsh Maine landscape of the early twentieth century plays a part here too. A visit to Maine is definitely on my bucket list and the descriptions in this book only added to my desire to go. But the tough climate shaped a tough, proud bunch of people and that's reflected here. This is one of those books that just wouldn't be the same if it was set anywhere else.
I haven't read The Woman in Black but, based on the movie, I get the feeling that readers who enjoyed that would enjoy this book and vice versa.
When you're in the mood to explore the darker side of human nature, give this one a try. It's a quick, atmospheric read that won't disappoint.(less)
Testimony covers a lot of ground, from the making of the movie, Schindler's List, to the idea of filming Holocaust survivor testimonies, to the actual...moreTestimony covers a lot of ground, from the making of the movie, Schindler's List, to the idea of filming Holocaust survivor testimonies, to the actual project, and now sharing the testimonies and collecting new ones from ongoing genocides around the world.
The first half of the book kept my attention better than the second half. I love the movie so seeing the behind-the-scenes photos and reading about the actor's thoughts was fascinating. I also liked reading about the real people the characters were based on and how filming such harrowing scenes affected all the cast and crew. When the narrative moved on to the idea of the Shoah foundation and collecting the survivor/witness stories, I was still on board. I liked reading about how the USC Shoah Foundation is sharing their expertise with other groups around the world with similar goals. I was reading in bed wondering how you get a job collecting stories. I even searched StoryCorps to see if they were hiring (They were but I'm not bilingual). The idea of such a huge, important undertaking just appealed to me--no, it called to me.
The second half got more technical, focusing on ensuring that the testimonies are secure and stay in a format that is always relevant to the modern age. That started to lose me. I'm proficient with the technology that's relevant to my life. I don't really stay on the cutting edge of anything. And I definitely don't understand anything about movie editing, etc. I do understand that all of this is important but I didn't really follow it. I was back on slightly firmer footing when the narrative switched to sharing the testimonies with the world. Even at that, I quickly got to the point where I just wanted to know what website I could go to for myself.
What kept me going were the transcribed excerpts sprinkled throughout the book. I'm drawn to stories of the Holocaust so reading about what these survivors endured was a highlight of the book. I was glad that the editors chose to include narratives from not only Jewish survivors, but also a homosexual survivor, rescuers/witnesses, a Jewish woman active in the resistance, a Sinti and Roma survivor, and survivors from other genocides (Rwanda and Cambodia). I personally know very little about other genocides or even really other perspectives on the Holocaust. I especially like that all these excerpts included current photos of the speakers and photos from their past.
Anyone interested in the Holocaust and/or Schindler's List will find this book fascinating. Pick it up for yourself and bear witness. We must never forget.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.(less)