Saying this right off the bat, “Jane Eyre” is one of my favorite books. When I first encountered “Jane” at the bookstore, I was simultaneously intrigued and horrified. How dare the author mess with such a classic! But, wow, Mr. Rochester as a rock star? I kind of dig that. Intrigue beat horror, and I took the book to the cashier.
The author, April Lindner, modernizes “Jane Eyre” almost to the T. I was expecting many differences, but Lindner is stubbornly faithful to the original. The story begins with Jane Moore, a 19-year-old college dropout trying to find employment. Her parents had died six months earlier, leaving her with nothing. Serious and shy, Jane never connected with her family, and her parents tended to give favorable treatment to her older brother and sister. Jane finally secures a nanny position at the Thornfield Park estate. Her job is to take care of legendary rock star Nico Rathburn’s young daughter. Once Jane and Nico meet, they are undeniably captivated by each other. But secrets, involving Nico’s past, stop Jane from getting too close.
While reading the story, I was battling two kinds of emotions once again. Surprise that Lindner found so many ways to parallel the story almost exactly to the original, and disappointment that it didn’t take off in a little different direction creatively. I guess when they say “retelling,” they really mean it. However, I think it’s really smart idea for those who haven’t read “Jane Eyre.” Many will read “Jane,” and want to read the original. It’s a useful (and probably successful) device to market classic literature to young adult readers.
As far as modernizing the characters, Lindner did a great job. Giving Mr. Rochester the rock star treatment was enjoyable. Nico still has many of Rochester’s traits, but the rock star status gives him and the story the edge it needs. Nico is a little more appealing (at least on a superficial level) than Rochester is. It doesn’t take you as long as to fall in love with Nico as it did with Rochester. Nevertheless, given that this is a young adult novel, the faster pace is better.
I definitely recommend this book to those who haven’t read “Jane Eyre.” “Jane” is an entertaining love story and will make you want to read the original. And the original is so good! I’m up for anything that gets anyone to reading classic literature; “Jane” is worth your buck!