Monday, September 13, 2010

Review and Giveaway — Jane by April Lindner

Summary (via Goodreads): 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, an iconic 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 tested by a torturous secret from his past.

Part irresistible romance and part darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic
Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.
 Review (spoilers if you haven’t read Jane Eyre):  It’s been a while since I read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, but it’s been one of my favorites of the classics so I was excited and more than a little nervous when I heard there was a modern retelling of the iconic story to be published.  I’ve had this book on my shelf a while and have been reluctant to start it.  I wasn’t sure if it could be adapted well in this modern era.
I have to say, it was done pretty darn well.  Lindner keeps mostly to the original story, but changes it up enough to make it her own and keep you from feeling like you know exactly what’s going to come next (even if you kind of do).   
Jane is a heartbreaking character.  You see snippets in flashbacks and memories of her childhood and how misunderstood she was (and still is).  Her mother, in particular, calls her “a cold fish” at one point and it killed me because not is she a horrible mother, but I felt Jane’s frustration at not being able to fully articulate her passion and emotions. 
Rochester, however, was a character that I reacted to totally differently in this version than I did in the original.  I remember thinking Rodchester was brooding, dark, and compelling.  Maybe it was because I was younger when I read the original or maybe it’s easier to forgive certain male character flaws in Victorian and pre-Victorian era novels like those by the Bronte’s or Austen than it is in a modern setting, but in Lindner’s version I didn’t find him nearly as attractive, and it has nothing to do with the way she wrote him.  I saw his actions in a completely new light.  Instead of finding him brooding I just thought Nico was pretty childish and emotionally manipulative.  I mean, really, you’re going to try to make Jane jealous by teasing her that you’re going to marry some rich photographer?  Um, no thank you.  I’d like not to re-live the games I played when I was in 6th grade trying to get Matt Baker to notice me.  I remember thinking at one point, “Jane, you should just run now, because you could do so much better than this head case.”
Yet, just when I started to worry that she was going to overlook his immaturity and the fact that he was still kind of in love with this crazy ex, she stood her ground. There’s a passage right before she leaves Thornfield where Jane realizes that her relationship with Nico won’t work.  It was pretty much word for word all the reasons I had been mentally compiling as to why their relationship was toxic (though she’s way more forgiving of his emotional immaturity).  I so admired that she was so completely in love and utterly heartbroken, but she still knows that she can't stay.  She’s strong when she needs to be strong and is rational throughout the entire relationship without losing any kind of romance or sympathy.
In the original I was so caught up with the epic love story, that Jane’s journey didn’t completely sink in.  In this version, it was watching Jane discover her self-worth that really made this a compelling story.  She moved me to tears several times and impressed me with her independence and courage.  By the end, you don’t fault her for going back to Nico because although he hasn’t really changed, she is better equipped to deal with him and put him in his place.
Whether you’ve read the original or not Jane is a great read.  The second I finished I grabbed my copy of Jane Eyre off the shelf to re-read.  I love that Lindner’s version doesn’t try to replace the original, but it’s a fantastic story on its own and makes you slightly nostalgic for Bronte’s version.  Jane just proves that Charlotte Bronte created a fascinating and timeless character.  Luckily, Lindner is more than capable of capturing her spirit.  Though…I still think Jane could do better than Rochester/Rathburn.
Lit Snit Verdict: A-
I was lucky enough to receive two copies of this book from the publisher and want to share one with you!  Enter below for your chance to win the fabulous Jane by April Lindner.  This is a US/Canada giveaway only (sorry!) and will end 9/24.

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