Review Detail

4.0 2
Young Adult Fiction 1609
Overall rating
Writing Style
Retellings are a difficult thing, especially if the retelling is of a book like Jane Eyre. Not only should the author stay true to the original, s/he should also make this new book original, give it an identity of its own. Jane, April Lindner’s debut novel, is entertaining and easy to read, but for me it was never anything more than a retelling of Jane Eyre, not a book able to stand up on its own merit.

I very much doubt that it’s possible to be more faithful to Charlotte Brontë’s original novel than Lindner was. I mean, wow. This is a clean, scene-by-scene retelling. So if you’re a big fan of Jane Eyre and you’re just curious to see what it would be like in the modern world, Jane is a good book to look at. Unfortunately, I didn’t think that a lot of the original material made the transition to the twenty-first century as well as the author would have wanted.

Locking your insane wife in the attic is one thing in the Victorian period, when divorce and mental health were things not talked about. In today’s world, Mr. Rochester’s reasons for keeping his wife hidden away, for not committing her to an institution, for not divorcing her—they didn’t pass muster. This book really fails at working within the context of time and social norms. In Jane, the big plot twist ends up ridiculous and unbelievable, rather than shocking. I think Lindner, in choosing not to take any liberties with Brontë’s work, failed to show the timelessess of Jane Eyre as she doubtless intended to do. Instead, the story here was awkward and silly, and I found it unrealistic.

This book is probably a good one for those who haven’t read Jane Eyre at all, I think. Even then, I’m not sure, since the plot didn’t make the transition to modern-day as well as could have been possible. (And I know it’s possible, because I’ve read very good modern retellings of Austen, the Brontës, Shakespeare, Dickens, etc.) The trick is to stay true to the heart of the original text all while making the story your own. Since all Lindner did was rehash Brontë’s novel, Jane is not its own entity in my mind. It’s just a retelling.

But at the same time, this book is still enjoyable in spite of its lack of creative spark. Jane Moore was dull, and Mr. Rothburn (AKA Rochester), was a typical rock star character. But the story is still a good one, though I’m afraid we can’t give Lindner much credit for that. I don’t know. I was disappointed by the author’s straightforward and unimaginative style of retelling, but there was something I liked about Jane, though I’m not sure if I could explain it very well. This was an addicting, one-sitting read that was very far from atrocious. I think it’s a good book that might work for the right audience.
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