Friday, November 5, 2010

Jane by April Lindner

In this modern retelling of Jane Eyre, Jane Moore is forced to drop out of college after her parent's death. She takes a job as a nanny for Madeline, daughter to famous rock star Nico Rathburn. Although Jane doesn't like Nico much at first, she soon falls in love with him, and much to her surprise, he feels the same way. All is not roses, as it turns out that Nico hasn't been telling her the whole truth.

So. I did not like Jane Eyre at all. I have no interest in self-centered, brooding jerks who for some reason are appealing to the female heroines. Also, mad wife in the attic. This is also probably the reason the Bronte novels don't get as many updates as Austen novels. What do you do with those mad wives in the attics? How do you put that into modern times?

Quite neatly, if you're April Lindner. I enjoyed this very much, which is saying something as it is a.) based on Jane Eyre, which I didn’t like, and b.) still, really, a Gothic romance that I also usually don't care for. So well played! I can't really explain why Jane falling in love with this guy in like a week didn't piss me off the way most of the other books with the girl falling in love with someone in a week do. I think it was because we got to see some of what Jane fell in love with. It wasn't love at first sight. She thought he was kind of a jerk. But then she started talking to him and spending time with him and we learn about both of them and we see he's not such a jerk at all. Character development! I love it! That's what it was! Character development! I didn't even realize because it's been so long.

The update that was done worked pretty well. In a note at the end, Lindner talks about how she made it work. How would a modern girl find herself in a position of being forced to work taking care of someone’s child? So Jane becomes an orphan with a messed up childhood who can no longer afford to go to college and needs a job that will help her make some money while also giving her a place to live. The biggest problem is, of course, the mad wife in the attic. How on Earth can you give that an update? And this was my only real issue with the book. I don't think it quite worked.

In Jane Eyre, we have the wife because one didn't get divorced. You just didn't. It didn't matter if she went crazy later on, you married her, now deal with it (although hopefully you don't deal with it by locking her up). When Jane learns this, she takes off but then later returns when she learns that Mr. Rathburn has been blinded in a fire and now needs her, which is really what Jane wanted all along. In modern day, that doesn't fly. Why wouldn't the wife be hospitalized? Why wouldn't Nico have just gotten a divorce? So in order to make it work, Nico still needed to be in love with his wife. She was made into a schizophrenic who refused to take her pills and would become violent. But Nico hoped that someday she would take her pills and return to the person he loved. On the one hand, awww, he still loves his wife. On the other hand, Nico is more of a cad (yes, I said cad) then Mr. Rathburn was because Mr. Rathburn actually did love only Jane. Nico was still in love with someone else and tried to marry Jane anyway.

If your friend calls you up and says, "You know that guy I'm totally in love who I'm getting married to? Well, it turns out he was actually still married. And she lives in his house. He didn't get a divorce because he's still kind of in love with her, but he told me he loved me and then tried to marry me. Then, when it all came out against his will, he said it was OK, we could just live together. What do you think I should do?" I hope your answer will contain the sentence, "Get the hell out of there." That's an awfully big lie Nico.

I am willing to accept this, however, because I really did enjoy the book, because I accept the fact that Jane is a pushover. A total pushover. However much we want to spin her as an independent women with mind of her own, Jane is a pushover and lets other people take advantage of her. That's why she can't speak up for herself, that's why she lets her family walk all over her, that's why she was going to for the Haiti with a guy she didn't really like because he really, really wanted her to, and that's why she went back to Nico. Because yes, she still loved him, and sure, he loved her, and despite the fact he'd totally screwed her over she felt badly about leaving and went back and apologized. And his wife had conveniently died in a fire and they all lived happily ever after. Yay!

Whatever, it was well written and fun. Jane came out on October 11th.

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