Wendy Darling's Reviews > Jane

Jane by April Lindner
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When I think of Jane Eyre, I think of a dark mystery, beautiful prose, and strongly moral characters. Most of all, I think of the undercurrent of passion that burns through all of its primary characters, from the tortured Mr. Rochester to his poor mad wife, to the zealous Mr. Rivers to the unhappy and neglected Adele, and above all else, in the quietly determined Jane herself. It is very strange, therefore, to read a book based on this story that is so severely lacking in any of those elements.

This book would have been much better off if the author had abandoned the notion of basing this on Jane Eyre at all. But even taken on its own merits as a young adult novel, much of it really doesn't even make that much sense. There's just absolutely no way a girl with so little experience and interest in children would ever be entrusted to be the nanny of someone in Nico Rathburne's position, and no convincing reason (being that this is modern times) why he should not have been able to divorce his wife. And do most girls tend to ask their new employers whether he's been tested for sexually transmitted diseases? The relationship between Jane and Nico never felt genuine or loving or real, and really, very few of the characters have any life of their own either. Poor little Maddy, the whole reason why they come together in the first place, is relegated to merely a plot device, as are the other servants, the band members, Jane's siblings, etc. Nico's rock star status seems especially random and doesn't contribute to the story in any meaningful way, except as the realization of some sort of adolescent fantasy.

Jane herself is also a puzzle. There's no real reason given for her being as reserved as she is, either in her upbringing or her beliefs. Just because someone doesn't wear make-up or read gossip magazines and is bookish (though there's no actual evidence of her reading, by the way) doesn't mean she should be boring, for heaven's sake. This girl has so little about her that is interesting or unique, and what spirit she shows is lifted directly and reworked from Charlotte Bronte's own dialogue.

This doesn't mean that a contemporary take on Jane Eyre is a mistake. I think it's actually a great idea to do a modern rewrite on this story, because it's one filled with dramatic tension and romance and tragedy. But it's important that a good rewrite not only captures some spirit or ideal from its source material, but that it also catches the reader's imagination on its very own. As such, dear Reader, I sadly cannot recommend this particular version.

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Reading Progress

04/23/2011 page 156

Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-20 of 20) </span> <span class="smallText">(20 new)</span>

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message 1: by Cara (new) - added it

Cara I guess I'll have to read the classic before I read this. Nice review Wendy:)

Wendy Darling The original is very dense in parts (and doesn't get really good until she gets to Thornfield), but is really beautifully written. I kind of want to listen to it on audiobook sometime. (And thanks!)

message 3: by Lora (new)

Lora Believe it or not, I've yet to read Jane Eyre. But I plan on it soon and I'll be sure to skip this rewrite.

Great review :)

Wendy Darling Thanks Lora...I love Jane Eyre, though, so that probably colors my thinking quite a bit, though I tried to go into it with an open mind.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I couldn't agree more.. I first thought idea was fun, and at least I found it a very easy book to read.. but.. I didn't expect characters to be exactly as originals, but in this one they are so boring! I personally thought main problem with story is that some elements that have sense in 19th Century, lack realism in 21th. I mean, Rochester, Nico or whatever is a world-wide rock star and got to keep his love-life secret? Is that important now that he must marry Jane straight away? I've read much more fun and better written fan-fiction of this story.

Wendy Darling Hah, yes...I think the "boring" factor weighed in on my rating, too. I agree with you about the 19th century elements lacking realism in this day and age.

Jane Eyre fan fiction? Oh my!

message 7: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 04, 2012 12:56PM) (new)

On my defence, may I say that I joined with a friend a bet to read all "Jane Eyre" related books we could lay our hands on? That included fan-fiction sites. My favourite was a story in wich Jane meets Doctor Who (from british sci-fi tv series) and finds aliens in Thornfield attick. Surprisingly, both my friend and me still love Charlotte Brontë.

Wendy Darling Dr. Who meets Jane Eyre? o_O That sounds so ridiculous that it might actually be fun! Aliens at Thornfield, hah. Who'd have thought.

I live to serve, Cillian. ;) I'm glad you didn't buy it.

Laura It's so funny, in a "different strokes for different folks" kind of way that I agree with pretty much EVERYTHING you have said here, and yet I enjoyed it, gave it four stars. I think it is part that I enjoyed laughing at the silly bits, part that I am not the best reviewer and this gave me a lot of fodder for thinking about what went right/wrong, part that I think the author has talent when she gets to her own ideas, part that I like retellings quite a bit.

Anyway, I love that your reviews are entertaining and informative, but still keep me thinking why I had a different reaction than you. All of the best things about Goodreads!

Wendy Darling Different opinions keep things interesting for sure, Laura. I suppose it all just comes down to whether there's some element of the story that appeals to you! And I fully admit that this one had to work extra hard for me anyway, being that I loved the original book so much.

Appreciate the discussion...I'm glad it worked better for you than it did me.

message 11: by Claire (new) - added it

Claire I'm sad you hated this book. It has been on my To read shelf and I was going to start it up soon. Who knows, I might still try it out.

Wendy Darling Oh, don't let me stop you from reading this, Claire. A number of my friends really enjoyed it, so you certainly might, too! I'd be interested in hearing what you think if you decide to give it a try.

Emily A part of me wishes that Nico hadn't been written as a rock-star has-been. It made me picture some of the old rock has-beens that show up now-a-days. Nothing attractive in my head at all as I read this. I had to force myself to picture him as something handsomer than current-Steven Tyler or something.

And another part of me thought that this Jane was awfully serious for, what, an 18 year old? Granted, I haven't read the original Jane Eyre (only seen movie adaptations--speaking of which, have you seen the most recent one with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender?), so I don't know if she was very serious as well. But in her defense if she was, she went through a lot more in her childhood than this modern Jane did. And now that you've brought it to my attention, she WAS rather dull and boring in this book.

Howdy YAL I liked this book. You brought up some valid points, but I really enjoyed the retelling. Were there some issues with the novel that conflicted with reality, sure. And I for one couldn't stand the St. John character, but then again I couldn't stand him in the original. But I thought it was an interesting take on the book. I think it was a good freshman effort. I am interested in seeing how Lindner takes Wuthering Heights on in Catherine.

Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* Oh dear, I'm just about to start this and I had high hopes... And I typically agree with you about most books, Wendy. Ahhh well, we'll see. ;)

Wendy Darling Emily, it definitely would have helped if Nico hadn't been a rock star. That took it to a whole new level of wish fulfillment that I didn't care for. The original Jane is very serious, but she was incredibly passionate and principled and well-read and fascinating at the same time. This Jane would be like a kitchen servant in that time, hah. (And yes, I saw the new film--I love Fassbender, but I wasn't a huge fan. I LOVE the BBC adaptation with Toby Stephens, though, and I like a few of the earlier versions as well.)

YAL, St. John is annoying no matter which era you find him in. ;) I have a copy of CATHERINE, but I doubt I'll read it--I don't think this author is for me. And I wasn't as big a fan of Wuthering Heights, although maybe that would actually help.

Brigid, I'm very curious what you'd think of this! Don't let my issues dissuade you, hah. Good luck. :)

Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* Well, you've seen my review by now. ;) But, I ended up feeling pretty much the same way about it. It felt more like it was her own story, and she just used a few Jane Eyre moments in it so that more people would be interested in reading it ... Ugh.

message 18: by J.A. (new)

J.A. Ironside You are right on about this. Lindner has also written Catherine, a retelling of Wuthering a Heights. It makes genuinely doubt whether she read the original classic books or even just the cliff notes. I want her to stop mauling classic English literature now with her inept attempt to ride on famous literary coat tails and just try to do something original.

Great review.

Wendy Darling J.A. wrote: " I want her to stop mauling classic English literature now with her inept attempt to ride on famous literary coat tails and just try to do something original."

This made me laugh so much. I wish she'd stop, too. Bleh.

message 20: by Nan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nan As I'm reading this book right now, I checked up on it in Goodreads and found your review, Wendy. In particular, I noted this line: "no convincing reason (being that this is modern times) why he should not have been able to divorce his wife." I've tried to do some Google-ing on this issue, but I can't find a definitive answer. It seems that modern divorce courts do accept leaving a spouse specifically because that spouse was insane. I know that this was not always the case. In my own history, one of my male relatives wanted to divorce his wife in the 1980s due to repeated adultery. However, when he pursued it, he discovered that she had been institutionalized for mental issues before he met her. Because there was evidence of insanity prior to the marriage--which would mean that he knowingly married an insane person--no Michigan court would grant a divorce. (He claims that he never knew of the pre-marital hospitalization--and it all worked out in the end, as she divorced him.) In Nico's case, since they were married in Brazil (if I recall correctly) Brazilian law may have also played a part in the divorce drama. Unfortunately, I can't easily find a legal opinion on the matter.

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