Jane by April Lindner
Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.
But there’s a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane’s much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?
Jane Eyre is easily one of my all-time favorite books. With the massive overload of Pride and Prejudice sequels and modern-day rewrites (which I LOVE), it’s about time someone tackled the story of Jane and Mr. Rochester with its rich characters and intense drama (and sweet, sweet swoon). Right? (I’ll answer that. Oh, hell yes!!!!!!).
April Lindner makes great efforts to stay faithful to the original story. Jane is virtually without family, as her parents have recently died in an accident and her siblings treat her with indifference. Strapped for the funds to continue her pricey education at Sarah Lawrence, Jane is forced to drop out and find work as a nanny. She is placed at the home of Nico Rathburn, a bad-boy rock god from once a upon a time who is seeking to make a comeback. Rathburn needs a nanny to care for his preschool-aged daughter, Maddy, and desires someone who isn’t starstruck, who will be discreet and who will be a good caretaker and companion to his young daughter. Jane slips easily into this new life, adores Maddy and grows fond of Mr. Rathburn. Almost immediately she falls in love with him and is nearly blind to the dark secret he’s hiding. Almost.
If you’ve read my Boyfriend List, you know that Mr. Rochester is one of my all-time favorite literary men. I take great pride in the fact that he was voted the most romantic character in all of literature (in yo face Darcy!!!!!). Why do I take pride in this? I have no idea. I’m not the genius who created him, but I’ve read his story so often that I feel he’s a part of me. Since those first days of reading Jane Eyre in high school, Mr. Rochester and Jane helped to form my views on romantic love.
So to say that I had high hopes for this book would be an understatement.
The story starts out strong. The characters are interesting and there is a lot of detail given about each person so that I felt I truly understood them. I was intrigued by the chance to have a voyeuristic–albeit fictional–peek into the life of a rock star. Mr. Rathburn’s naughty boy ways are quickly documented as Jane researched him beforehand, so by the time we meet him he’s pretty tame. While I liked Mr. Rathburn, I felt he was immediately missing some of the better qualities of Mr. Rochester, precisely because he was instantly so likeable. Lindner attempts to show him as moody, but most often he seems mildly flirtatious and interested in befriending Jane. Jane, on the other hand, is very much like Jane Eyre. She’s strong and independent, unafraid to voice her thoughts when prodded, while maintaining a quiet, steady nature.
I enjoyed the relationship between Jane and Mr. Rathburn because it still held the underlying current of friendship and devotion and steadily grows into more. I thought Lindner did a great job of conveying the obvious desire each character had for the other, while still keeping the reader on edge about their future. Also, for those of you who might be interested, this Jane is thoroughly modern so when the time comes to profess their love to one another, she and Mr. Rathburn go to his bedroom and, ahem, get a little steamy. It’s not graphic but, just sayin. I’m not sure I’d ever want to see the real Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre (because they’re real. They are!) get on with their bedroom business.
On the other hand, there were other parts of the story directly inspired by the original novel that did not translate as well. For example, I found the relationship between Jane and her siblings to be unbelievably callous. And in flashbacks of her mother (who takes the place of the hateful Aunt Reed), there is no real explanation for why her mom would have such an obvious dislike of her own child. In the case of Mr. Rathburn, he still has a sordid past (spoiler alert: a crazy wife hidden in the attic. If you’ve read Jane Eyre you know this to be true of the original story as well. And if you haven’t read Jane Eyre all I can say is WHAT???? Do you live under a rock? Go read it immediately!!! Go! Now!!) that would have seemed impossible and too scandalous to overcome in the year that Bronte’s book was published, but now seems like a problem easily fixed with the right amount of cash (a quiet annulment and lots of rock star dinero to pay for the best of care for the mentally ill woman he married). These things, which are so integral to the story, felt like a stretch.
It’s really not fair of me to compare this book to the original because nothing really can compete with it. It’s a difficult story to translate into modern times and I think Lindner made a worthy attempt. On its own merits, Jane is a good story and if you’re willing to give some leeway on the believability of a few plot points, it’s a solid read. While I was somewhat disappointed, overall I liked Jane and Mr. Rathburn and I thought their relationship was sweet.
Crush Intensity: 3/5 It’s not my favorite, but it was entertaining. If you’re a Jane Eyre fan, it’s worth checking out.