Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Jane - April Lindner

Summary: 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? An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers. (Image and summary from http://www.aprillindner.com/)

My Review: It’s been a while since I’ve read Jane Eyre, so I don’t remember much besides basic plot threads, but I do remember this: Charlotte Bronte's classic novel has atmosphere, depth, and a richly woven story with an almost palpable sense of foreboding. It is plain from the summary that I couldn’t expect the same kind of quality from Jane, but I hoped that Jane would be to Jane Eyre as the movie Clueless was to Emma -- superficial, yes, but modern, relateable, humorous, and something that fans of the original novel could at least appreciate.

Jane was definitely superficial and modern, but I’m fairly certain that Miss Bronte would spin in her grave if she ever read it. The story felt like it was written by an inexperienced writer and I was surprised to find out that the author was an English professor. It’s not as if she used poor grammar or incorrect punctuation (Hello Kettle, I’m Pot.) but she chose to emphasize physical appearance and expressions of love in lieu of descriptive settings, character development, plot depth, or conveying genuine human emotion. The story lacked the maturity that I would expect from someone who made a career of studying literature. It felt like a children’s book, where the plot and character motivations need to be painfully obvious so that young minds can follow along.  What was once a complex and deeply emotional novel was reduced to the mental equivalent of a pop-up book.

What bothered me most was that I didn’t like any of the characters or how they related to each other. Nearly every character felt two-dimensional and the main relationship felt contrived and emotionally disingenuous. When Jane leaves Thornfield Park, she is so consumed by her disappointed heart that she doesn’t say goodbye to her young charge, a girl she purportedly cares for, and the girl is barely mentioned for the duration of the book. This decision, among many others, made her seem shallow and selfish. Nico, as written, is a a self-absorbed idiot, a horrible parent, and a cardboard cut-out character. I feel that the author would have been better served by focusing on Jane’s increasing self-confidence and the transformation of Nico from reckless rock star to doting father and genuine human being. As it stands, Jane’s sense of worth was defined solely by Nico’s love and the only transformation I saw in Nico was that from intriguing boss to sugar daddy (a la Richard Gere in Pretty Woman, before he wised up), and even that lacked a discernible catalyst. The author made several attempts at creating romantic tension through dialogue between Nico and Jane, but nothing resonated and I remained unmoved by their trite declarations of love (unless you count being moved to roll my eyes).

While I appreciate the author’s attempt to entice a new generation of readers towards the experience of Jane Eyre with this modern retelling, I was surprised at the amount of sex in the book and felt the story would have been more romantic if the author had kept Nico and Jane from taking the relationship to that level. Nico Rathburn also utilizes the F-word rather more than you might expect of the re-done Rochester, especially in a YA novel and his crazy wife manages to get in a few crude digs as well.

According to the summary Jane is “an irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery.” While this book was an easy read that required the minimum amount of brain cells to read, I was neither engrossed by the mystery, nor swept away by the romance. I am fairly certain that true fans of Jane Eyre will be disappointed by this watered down and melodramatic retelling of the classic novel.

My Rating: 2.25 Stars

For the sensitive reader: Multiple use of the F-word and some other crude language. Also some descriptions of sexual encounters between the two main characters.

Sum it up:
To the person who likes this book: You will probably like Jane Eyre.
To the person who hates this book: You will probably like Jane Eyre.
To the person who loves Jane Eyre: You will probably hate this book.

3 comments:

Tribute Books said...

Enjoyed your review - if you'd like to check out my thoughts on the book please click: http://tributebooksreviews.blogspot.com/2010/10/april-lindner-jane-giveaway-review.html

Anonymous said...

This was a terrific book, you are severely negative.

MindySue said...

What I am is brutally honest. This was my opinion of the book, and as an opinion, it often differs from the perspective of others. I'm glad you liked the book and I'm sure that others will as well. I am just not one of them.

And for the record, THIS ( http://readingforsanity.blogspot.com/2011/11/beauty-queens-libba-bray.html ) is my version of severely negative.

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