Monday, October 11, 2010
Review: Jane by April Lindner
Synopsis: Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?
Jane Eyre ranks almost right up there with Pride and Prejudice as one of my favorite romances of all time. I have always admired Jane as a woman who, though believing she is no one remarkable, tackles life with a tenacity and freshness that few in her position would have. In this case, Jane Moore is an orphan with a sister and a brother who care nothing for her. She has dropped out of college but needs to survive so she applies to be a nanny and gets a mysterious assignment. She soon learns she will be the nanny a little girl named Maddy, the daughter of rock star legend Nico Rathburn. Jane does not follow the tabloids or gossip channels so she knows very little about her new employer. She has no idea what to expect but most all, she does not expect to fall in love.
I really enjoyed how April Lindner incorporated modern times into her story but did not lose any of the great Victorian atmosphere of the famous novel. The descriptions of the palatial Thornfield Park, Nico's estate, are grandiose and dark. It is easy to see this setting being both a harbinger of something deadly but also a safe haven from the outside world.
Nico's music and rock celebrity are also incorporated in such a way to make him a believable modern day Mr. Rochester. Oh its not perfect characterization but I definitely have to give debut author April Lindner kudos for making Nico Rathburn seem mysterious yet approachable, obviously caring for Jane, but not wanting to play his cards too soon. He is NOT Mr. Rochester of course, make no mistake. This is a character who stands fairly well on his own merits.
Most of all I liked Jane, a modern girl who was doing what she had to in order to survive. She was smart, calm, experienced both happiness and jealousy, unsure of her future but also giddy at the prospect of love. In short, she reminded me a lot of myself. And she definitely reminded me of Jane Eyre.
There are some differences between the original and this modern telling but I think it worked for this book's benefit in terms of the book standing alone. Jane never receives an inheritance. She is just an old-fashioned hard worker who makes ends meet the only ways she knows how.
My one disappointment with this book involves the wife in the attic. Honestly, I just didn't find that plot point believable in a modern retelling. With the help of modern science, and good doctors who honestly do want to help people suffering from mental illness, and given Nico's wealth, it just seemed absurd to me that he would think his wife was better off locked in his house than in some type of clinic where she could be comfortable and safe to herself. I know there are bad health care facilities out there, but there are also really great ones. This is a plot point that just did not carry over as well into modern times, for me anyway. It is certainly believable that in the mid-1800s, keeping a wife locked in an attic may very well have been to her benefit but... I couldn't buy into it 100% here. ON the other hand, nothing says Jane Eyre like a wife locked in an attic so I guess if it hadn't happened, I would have been letdown.
I really enjoyed Jane and I think this book is going to be a hit for the YA crowd. It's modern and it's romantic. You have a pair of hopelessly devoted lovers and a love that spans many, many challenges. This is going to be a speed-read for some teen girls. And I hope, that if they haven't yet read Jane Eyre, that this book will open that door for them.
All in all, I was very impressed with April Lindner's debut. She made it a fresh retelling with her own voice, but also captured what made Jane Eyre such a classic.
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ARC provided by publisher.
Review: Jane by April Lindner
Debut Author Challenge|debut YA author|October 2010|review|