Review – Jane
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  • Posted:
  • September 23, 2012
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I was very nervous to read Jane by April Lindner, so much so that I avoided picking it up for a few years. Jane is a modern retelling of Jane Eyre. While Jane Eyre is not my absolute favourite Bronte classic it’s pretty close. Charlotte Bronte wrote a pretty perfect book the first time around. How can anyone dream, or even dare, to rewrite it?

This year I have found myself reading three different retellings of Jane Eyre – the other two were The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey and A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont. April Lindner’s take is my favourite. She nailed it.

Jane Moore lost both of her parents to a car crash several months ago. Bereft and depressed she applies for a job at a nanny service and lands herself in a high profile position. The job is for Nico Rathburn, the uber popular guitarist and song writer infamous for his wild side. Plain and shy Jane is reluctant at first but accepts the position when she realizes she has no choice – her estranged siblings will not welcome her back and without the job she will surely starve. When Jane meets Nico she falls into a passionate consuming love that threatens to undo her, particularly when his past comes between them.

 The thing about Jane Eyre that has always been so compelling is the character dynamics. Jane Eyre has always been a coming of age drama. We watch Jane grow from an abused child into an assertive, take-charge kind of woman who won’t let anyone hold dominion over her. Jane Moore from Lindner’s version, is no different. She does have an abusive past that she is trying to overcome. She has a hard time letting the trauma go. But she realizes that adaptation is the key to her survival. When she finally meets Nico he is the perfect foil for her. Nico is impulsive, self obsessed, creative, rash, and moody. He is also haunted by his past. Jane and Nico compliment each other, just as Jane and Rochester did in the original. Trying to mesh this dynamic into a contemporary setting could also prove difficult, yet Lindner does it so seamlessly. My first reaction when this book first came out was an eyeroll; Rochester as an aging rock star? Really? Incredulity. However, it works, and it works Really. Damn. Well. I couldn’t imagine a modern scenario where all of his arrogance and flightiness could be explained so well. It also allowed for some of the more “hidden” things of his past. And it makes sense that the things from his past would have played out in this way.

Lindner nails the core themes of the original book, but what’s better is that she perfectly captures to tone. There were times where I forgot I was reading a retelling. There were times I had to run to consult the original to see how she had played with the dialogue between them. Every high note in the original is portrayed beautifully. This is the retelling for readers who are dubious of retellings. I loved it. Passionately. It deserves a space on my shelf next to Bronte.

5 out of 5 stars. I can’t wait for Catherine.

– BP

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