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Jane, April Linder

2010/11/04

There are no werewolves, vampires, zombies, or really anything supernatural in April Linder’s retelling of “Jane Eyre.” Instead there is Jane Moore, a nineteen-year-old art student who is forced to drop out of college and become a nanny to support herself after the death of her parents. Jane is chosen by the nanny agency for a special assignment which requires a cool, calm, capable woman who doesn’t care about celebrities or pop culture. Jane’s employer turns out to be Nico Rathburn, a well known rock-and-roll guitarist who has been out of the spotlight for several years but is planning a return to the stage. His five year old daughter, Maddy, is Jane’s charge, and Thornfield Hall, his country estate, becomes Jane’s home.

The plot follows the Bronte original fairly closely, though streamlined and pared down for a less patient audience. Jane is a matter-of-fact, plain prose narrator, and does not mince words or express herself in an openly emotional way. The ethical debate of Rathburn’s refusal to divorce his mentally ill wife, and the illegality and scandal of Rathburn’s attempt to marry Jane while he is still married to Bibi seems oddly old fashioned in what otherwise seems to be a modern American society. Other events, such as Jane being taken in by three siblings after fleeing Thornfield, seem downright dangerous and ill-advised in the modern setting, while Linder’s reinterpretation of Mr. Rochester, while attractive to modern audiences, lacks the mysterious aura and danger of the original. Still, for teens who are interested in the genre of reinterpreted classics, or who like to read novels about rock stars, this is a good recommendation. Jane, as the unloved youngest sibling of a beautiful young socialite and an unmotivated alcoholic brother, may have particular appeal to those who view themselves as the only mature one amongst their family.

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