Within the first few pages of debut author April Lindner’s Jane: A Modern Retelling of Jane Eyre, I closed the book and thought: “it’s been too long since I read a classic romance full of brooding, tortured men, innocent but likeable young women who struggle against adversity and yearn for their own independence, all set in some dark mysterious circumstance or place, full of danger, foreboding, or mystery.  Ah, I miss the Brontes! I’d forgotten how much I loved them!”  With unbridled delight I plowed through Jane in one weekend afternoon. Curious how the classic could be updated with modern characters, situations, and sensibilities, I was pleasantly surprised and on more than one occasion, swept up in the romance as if I didn’t already know what would happen.

Stoic, sensible, no-nonsense Jane Moore has been forced to leave university after her emotionally-distant parents’ sudden death has left her completely penniless. She reluctantly takes a nanny position for a washed-up rock & roll musician looking to make a comeback after years in seclusion following crazed drug binges, a scandalous divorce, and a near tragic end to his career. Once settled into the sprawling Thornfield Estate and fully engaged with her charge, the rocker’s precocious 5 year old daughter Maddy, Jane soon discovers her preconceptions of Nico Rathburn and his life are far from the truth. His brooding nature, artistic temperament, and capricious whims soon turn her world completely upside down and before long, Jane has fallen head-over-heels for a man she never thought she could like, much less love.  But there’s a dark, dangerous secret in Nico’s past that threatens not only their romance but the lives of everyone at Thornfield Estate.

Of course Jane is predictable, partly from the genre and from the close parallel to its namesake, but that doesn’t matter at all.  Lindner creates some interesting twists and modern touches to enhance both the drama and the appeal to 21st century readers.  A few basic plot points are a little harder to update (is it really plausible that 40-something Nico would work so hard to make his 19 year old employee jealous in today’s world?), but when you’re completely swept up in the moment, who cares about such mundane questions? This is romance as pure and simple, as delicious and dangerous, as brooding and all encompassing as it gets. Certainly the foremothers of the genre, Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Jane Austen, are smiling their knowing little grins and relishing every word.

  • Posted by Cori

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