Thursday, May 3, 2012

Classic Double Challenge - Eyre vs Lindner

vs Jane

The Classic
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
This is the tale of a girl who grew up in a house where no one liked her, let alone loved her. Her cousin, John, would constantly bully her. In fact, all her cousins were considered "better" and had the clothes, food, and fun to prove it.  Jane endured this until the glorious day, at the age of ten,  when Mr. Lloyd took her away to Lowood Institution. At Lowood everyone has the same clothes, terrible food and basically no fun. But, Jane has Helen Burns! and Ms. Temple! People who love her and teach her how to love and life is, at least, more bearable.  Jane grows up and becomes a teacher at Lowood herself.

But Jane's good fortune does not end there! She gets a governess position at Thornfield Hall with Adele, the ward of Mr. Rochester! He of the average but brooding visage.  They soon grow to love each other but, as everyone knows, there is a Mrs. Rochester hidden in the attic. So, peripeteia, again! Jane is thoroughly humiliated and forces herself to leave Thornfield. "Farewell! was the cry of my heart..." Poor Jane! She doesn't have anywhere else to go! But she leaves anyway and she endures hardships. Yes, but she endures!

After much begging and wandering, Jane ends up at the house of Mr. St. John Rivers and his sisters, Diana and Mary. Almost turned away by the maid, St. John himself rescues Jane from the doorstep and assured death.  St. John, the parson, soon to be missionary, took a special interest in our Jane.  Sure, the sisters loved her but he knew she was destined for greatness, for something more than teaching the poor. But first, let her teach the poor. And she did. And then fate turned and Jane got rich and found out she was cousins with the Rivers! She has a loving family! But her story doesn't end there, no! I told you St. John wanted more for Jane? He wanted her to be his wife! Not for love but to help him with his mission work! But, Jane's heart did not belong to her anymore. She could not give it to him.

Do you remember Mr. Rochester who needed the governess? So does Jane. And he remembers her.

The Contemporary
Jane by April Lindner
And now, dear Reader, we turn to Jane Moore. Poor Jane had to drop out of college due to lack of funds. She decides to find a job as a nanny. This Jane has two siblings, a sadistic brother and an unfeeling sister.  But, family issues aside, due to her lack of love for modern music, Jane gets to work at Thornfield Park and work for Mr. Rathburn, a huge rock star who has custody of his only child, Madeline.

But, more about Jane. Her siblings are five and six years older than she is, which isn't much but their lives were very different.  Jane and her mom just never gelled.  She was like the forgotten child.  Her brother, Mark, was cruel to her but her mom always took his side. Her sister, Jenna, was a child model who their mom doted on. Jane was used to being invisible. Jenna is now a rich girl married to an investment banker and Mark has disappeared after selling the house and taking all the proceeds. For reasons unknown, Jenna is loathe to help Jane out so she must find a way to survive.  Nanny it is.

While nannying at Thornfield, Jane is falling in love with Nico Rathburn the rock star.  But, she gets a strange call from her sister and drops everything to go home and help Jenna out. Mark, it seems, has blown through his cash and now wants to sleep on Jenna's couch. So she calls Jane. Who has no house and no money. Who she hasn't spoken to nor likes. And Jane goes.

So Jane settles her sister and brother and hightails it back to Thornfield Park where she is reminded that Nico is engaged! But, he starts hitting on her. And says he doesn't love Bianca, he loves Jane. And they celebrate their love. For reals.

Then Nico starts buying her stuff and takes her out on tour with him and proposes to her. Jane's head is swirling. But, alas, the wedding is not to be! So Jane leaves. And mails away her cell phone. Really. No, she doesn't change the number or turn off the location, she gets rid of it so Nico cannot find her!

She makes her way to the big city and she is lonely and broke. But, thankfully, she is rescued by Diana, a waitress with a big heart. Diana takes Jane back to her humble apartment and she moves in with her, her sister, Maria, and their brother, River. The St. Johns are good to Jane. River gets Jane a great administrative assistant position where she can finally start earning her keep. Along the way River tries to get Jane to become his wife and help him with his missionary work to Haiti.

You can guess the rest!

The Contest
For me, there was no contest. Jane Eyre is by far the better book. It was all I could do to write about Jane Moore without letting my feelings for that book come through.  I didn't like it as much as I'd hoped. I was constantly reminded I was reading an update instead of a story of it's own.  It was as if Lindner did some sort of search and replace. This felt less like a homage to Jane Eyre and more like a ripoff. And the story itself didn't seem believable to me. Jane Moore speaks in the beginning of seeing a poster of Nico Rathburn on her brother's wall at the age of 11 and then she doesn't recognize him when she sees him. There is talk of Nico taking off his "stockbroker's jacket" and then you could see his tattoos. So stereotypical. And why would she go to the aid of a sister and brother who were never kind to her? Who had more money than she did? Who led to her dropping out of school and not helping her? Nothing in the past said she would help them.  I did not see that compassion. And why did she have to sleep with Nico so easily? He really didn't have to say more than a sentence to change her mind. I just couldn't get behind this story.

Jane Eyre wins this one.

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  1. Still oddly intrigued by the redo... I guess Rochester would have to be a rock star or something to have a nanny. Hmmm. Have to think about this one.

  2. Great redux - I LOVE "He of the average but brooding visage" as that describes him pretty much completely. I totally agree with your assessment of the new Jane. I found that she wasn't nearly as strong as the original. And it was a bit too much of an exact plot for me too, though I think I liked that too. It's a hard balance with retellings.


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