Sitting in the lobby of Discriminating Nannies, Inc, Jane Moore never felt more different. She’d arrived in a suit jacket and pencil skirt from Goodwill and low heels. She wasn’t reading the latest issue of Instyle or People magazine or listening to her IPod. She wasn’t wearing trendy skinny jeans or ballet flats. Jane felt like an impostor. After her parents died leaving her nothing, she was forced to drop out of renown mostly female Sarah Lawrence university. Her sister ignores her; her brother is decidedly on his own, and Jane is left with no one or way of supporting herself. She would’ve never guessed however that her ignorance of popular culture makes her the perfect candidate for rocker Nico Rathburn’s nanny vacancy. While not a crazed fan, groupie, or fame seeker, Jane quickly finds Thornfield Park, her charge Maddy, and Nico himself, home. Whether all its residents will welcome her is another question.
I had so much untempered expectation for this book and little room for reservations. If I’d had any at all, Angie’s glowing review would’ve put them to rest. But on the other hand I thought shouldn’t I be worried that one of my favorite books introduced to me by my mother years ago may be ruined in the process? Really, so many things could go wrong! Instead I inexplicably knew Jane would be special, and it was. I dove right into it after finishing Mockingjay, and it still held up, it was that good. As with many retellings, the suspense is there from the first page when several questions are racing through your head. How will this well-known, beloved story and characters be portrayed? How will it be the same but different? Will the essence be lost or maintained yet manage to become its own entity? And Jane comes off effortlessly successful on all counts. It’s amazingly faithful and brilliantly original. It serves as both an engaging introduction to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and a completely satisfying reinterpretation of the novel for old fans. April Lindner has taught and cherished the novel for years and it definitely shows. Where I thought it may have the most problems – modernizing a nineteenth-century novel set in a patriarchal society where unmarried women had no rights – the adjustments were logical and intuitive, no stretches required.
I adored Jane. She was both Jane Moore and Jane Eyre at the same time. The reserve, the confidence, the dispassionate exterior; there was already something modern and timeless about the original character that is in this updated Jane. Portraying Mr. Rathburn as an established rocker on the verge of a comeback gave him the perfect past and lifestyle to fill the shoes of brooding, above-my-station Mr. Rochester. And no old, comeback rock star at that (think ancient Rolling Stones), but a youngish, hot musician who plays the guitar brilliantly, sings lead vocals, and writes all of his songs. I know, try not to swoon. Jane and Nico’s romance is modernized but essentially the same forbidden relationship of soul mates, and I loved them for them and not just because they were different versions of Jane and Rochester. Fairy tale and Pride and Prejudice type retellings may abound, but only a rare few are nearly flawless, and Jane is one of them. It’s a lovely, entrancing novel that I didn’t want to leave my side long after I’d finished. Come October I will be buying my own copy and putting a few extra copies in the cart for all those potential and longtime Jane lovers I know.