MY PLAIN JANE by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows & Brodi Ashton

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From the publisher:

Move over, Charlotte Brontë. The authors of the New York Times bestselling My Lady Jane are back with an irreverent spin on Jane Eyre—a tale of mischief, romance, and supernatural mayhem perfect for fans of The Princess Bride or A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.


There are three main plot lines at work in this supernatural twist on the classic novel Jane Eyre: Charlotte Brontë who, longing for adventure, follows her best friend Jane to Thornfield Hall; Jane Eyre the orphaned governess who can also see ghosts; and Alexander Blackwood an agent of the Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits.  Honestly it was all kind of a convoluted mess to me.

Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorite books so venturing into a remix of that book was bound to be dangerous territory for me.  Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester’s characters are so unrecognizable that it seems a stretch to even call this a Jane Eyre retelling. The Jane in this book is depicted as boy crazy and lacks the strength and independence that is so integral to the character.  I know that this book is a comedy, but I never want to see Jane Eyre describe Mr. Rochester’s hair as “floppy” again.  There were also numerous cases where it felt like the authors had simply watched a television or movie adaptation of Jane Eyre instead of referring to the source material.

The writing style of My Plain Jane also took some time to adjust to. There are lots of asides from the authors and it is all liberally sprinkled with pop culture references to everything from the Princess Bride to the Lord of the Rings. With so many plot lines and humorous references competing for attention the novel seemed to ultimately lack focus.

To be fair, I seem to be in the minority in not enjoying this second installment of The Lady Janies series.  Both My Lady Jane and My Plain Jane have received lots of buzz and positive reviews in the Young Adult book world.  For me, however, the humor fell flat, the plot was convoluted, and the authors strayed so far from the spirit of Jane Eyre that I wondered why they made the choice to use it as source material at all.

MY PLAIN JANE by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows & Brodi Ashton. HarperTeen (June 26, 2018). ISBN 9780062652775. 464p.

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