Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books. I fell in love with it in high school. I’ve always found her very easy to relate to: her view of herself and the world, the way she takes in those around her, and her no-nonsense attitude towards the insanity that creeps up behind her.
These character traits are something that Ms. Lindner has done very well to carry over. At first when I picked up the book, intrigued by the tagline “What if Jane Eyre fell in love with a rockstar?” I had to laugh. In the original, Mr. Rochester is about as far from “rockstar” as it is possible to get. He’s surly, hardly speaks, and is practically reclusive when not traveling for business. Nonetheless, I bought the book out of sheer curiosity.
I have to admit, I’m not terribly fond of most of the film adaptions I’ve seen of Jane Eyre, primarily because I don’t like their handling of Mr. Rochester. When the period adaptions make him out to be little more than a volatile, pushy pervert out to sleep with the babysitter, whether she likes it or not, how then would this modern version be portrayed?
In this rare modern day retelling, Jane Moore is a recently orphaned college student, forced to drop out when her funds dry up after the death of her parents. With only the briefest of resumes to support her, she banks on her babysitting experience and manages to land a highly coveted position as nanny to the five-year-old daughter of rock legend Nico Rathburn. Jane, for her part, does not follow celebrity gossip and favors classical music when she chooses to listen to it at all. She has only a passing familiarity with the 30-something singer’s music, who was once a favorite of her older brother, but even Jane has heard the stories about the drugs, the drinking binges, the wild parties and the train wreck marriage. Despite her reservations, however, the pay is good and she accepts the job and sets off for the secluded mansion in Connecticut.
Unlike in the original, Lindner skips over most of Jane’s childhood, showing us only a few poignant flashbacks and a single, present day interaction with her remaining family to communicate her dark past. Overall, this improves the pacing compared to Jane Eyre, skipping to the action much quicker while still giving us a sense of Jane’s past.
The overall plot points remain the same: the nighttime visit of her employer’s first wife, the fire in his bedroom, and the impromptu party that ends in the stabbing of his brother-in-law, culminating in the rather sudden engagement and subsequent failed wedding. For reasons unknown, however, the author has chosen to change either the first or last name (or both) of every character. It’s a minor point, but it does make me wonder when in so many other respects she has remained faithful to the original.
While I did find some aspects of Jane and Nico’s relationship to feel fabricated in some scenes, I did respect the fact that this modern interpretation of Jane never once let Nico nor anyone else talk her into anything she didn’t want to do. The story maintained the integrity of the original, but also breathed new life into characters that might not be appreciated in this day and age.
While I might not be willing to recommend this book as a purchase, I would suggest that Bronte fans search their local libraries: Jane, by April Lindner.