I’m actually not the biggest Jane Eyre fan. I prefer Austen to any of the Brontes. Part of this is because I never really fell in love with Rochester. I love Jane, and the inner-girl –power-reader in me feels like she deserved someone so much better. However, I have read Jane Eyre several times. And you don’t re-read a book you don’t like. I guess it’s just hard not to like Jane, especially when she sticks up for herself –against all odds.
Lindner’s Jane is a modern retelling of the classic. And as the author points out in her “Author’s Note,” there are not a lot of retellings of this story, especially when compared to Austen and the many different retellings and versions of Pride and Prejudice. Do you need to read Jane Eyre to appreciate this book? No. The book can definitely stand on it’s own. Hopefully it will inspire more young people to read the classic.
Like with its classic counterpart, this book begins with Jane’s troubles. Both of her parents have recently died and Jane cannot afford to finish her education at Sarah Lawrence in New York. She decides to apply with a nanny company to save up some money so she can eventually get her degree. The company places her with a rock star’s daughter, mostly because Jane does not know much of anything about pop culture and current media. Yes, Rochester is an aging rock star (named Nico)…Jane falls for Nico, who in turn is head over heals for her, so head over heals that he proposes. Too bad Nico has a dramatic secret that gets in the way of everyone’s happiness –a schizophrenic/drug addict wife who lives in the attic. Jane leaves Nico and his daughter, Maddy, the day she was supposed to get married, and finds herself making a new life with a family of do-gooders outside Yale. Jane eventually has to make the decision to stay and possibly go help impoverished people in Haiti or to go back to Nico, who she eventually learns went through a traumatic accident of his own.
I give this author a lot of credit. It is hard to recreate a modern Jane. At first, I wasn’t buying it. What type of college aged girl does not watch any tv or read any magazines? She also only listens to classical music, and spends her free time outside painting landscapes. I was a little worried that Lindner was too focused on making Jane too similar to the old Jane, even when it did not seem too realistic. However, Lindner either gets better at Jane, or the story eventually just becomes too good for me to really notice as the book goes on. There are specific scenes, conversations even, that Lindner must have studied in great detail in the original because they were completely replicated and modernized for this book at just the right moments (like Jane and Nico’s first real conversation or what Jane tells Nico when he’s teasing her about possibly marrying someone else).
I loved this Jane. She had just the right amount of strength. I liked that she decided to first leave Nico not because he was married, but because he genuinely seemed to still love his crazy wife. And I love how she teased Nico and really taught Maddy about life.
The only thing that still kind of nugs at me is: could Nico really not have divorced his wife after so many years, and still taken care of her? Why did he continue to stay married to her?
I give this a 9/10. And I highly recommend this to Jane Eyre fans, if anything to get to see Rochester be a rock star, and oh to have much better, more “modern” romance than we were allowed before.