I have a confession to make. I may be the worst reader ever. I was 25 years old when I read Jane Eyre for the first time. I know, I know. Who am I? Jean Valjean! …..wait, that’s Les Miserables. I’d always been a Jane Austen fan and it honestly never occurred to me that there could be a book that could come close to the love I felt for Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. Little did I know that Jane Eyre would eventually become my third favorite book of all time. I remember that while reading Jane Eyre, my friend was reading a modern adaptation of it by April Lindner entitled Jane. At that point I decided to mark it on my to-read list. Now over a year later, and needing a Jane Eyre fix after reading The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen, I decided to read Jane.
Jane begins with the sad and sudden death of Jane Moore’s parents, an event which causes a cataclysmic shift in her life that forces her to quit going to college and sign up to be a nanny to make ends meet. The nanny job is offered at Thornfield Park, the large estate of Nico Rathburn, a once world-renowned rock star who is close to making a huge comeback in his career. Even though she does not want the job, Jane reluctantly begins working for Nico, and against all odds she becomes attracted to him. She cannot resist his enticing qualities, and she is soon swept up in a romance with Nico that she had neither planned nor expected. This comes at a price, however, as she discovers a dark secret that threatens their new-found relationship. Jane finds that she must decide whether her attachment to Nico is worth having to live with the dark secret he carries with him. What is she willing to do for love?
My feelings are all over the place on this book. I think the only way for me to review this is to just list everything out, good and bad. First the strong stuff. I think it’s an excellently written modern adaptation of Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre is one of the harder classic literature books to modernize (IMO) because of one thing: the age difference. In our modern society a relationship between a 19-year-old girl and a 30+year-old guy is definitely going to turn some heads. I thought it was slightly bizarre that the age difference is never brought up as an issue. Nico’s friends just accept that Jane is his girlfriend and fiancée all in the same breath. Not once does anyone ever question it. I’m sorry, but in 2013 someone is definitely going to have some questions.
Take away the age difference issue and I think Jane is extremely creative! Mr. Rochester, a rock star? Excellent! His dark and moody personality translated wonderfully into the world of brooding musicians and paparazzi. While Nico isn’t as dark as Rochester is, he still has that mysterious air about him that defines so much of his character. Lindner’s Jane is an almost perfect replica of the Jane that Brontë herself created. She’s just as self-sufficient, independent, honest, true, moral, and strong as expected. One of my favorite things about Jane is that no matter how horrible her life seems, she never feels sorry for herself. Even when her engagement falls to pieces, she picks herself up, remains true to herself, and moves on. I think Jane is an awesome role model and the fact that this book is geared towards the Young Adult/New Adult demographic, means that another generation of readers might be inspired to read Jane Eyre.
In the end, are there parts of this book that are a bit far-fetched for the modern world? Yes. However, much should be said about Lindner’s ability to capture her audience and keep them enthralled as she slowly develops the deep love that Jane and Nico eventually realize exists between them. Jane is definitely a worthwhile read for not only Jane Eyre fans, but fans of dark, brooding, and mysterious love stories, as well as those who love a good tale of self-discovery. You won’t be disappointed!
4 out of 5 Stars
Jane by April Lindner
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2010)
eBook 277 pages