This is the first of two reviews I'm going to write about Jane Eyre adaptations, which I bought and read at about the same time. This one takes place in the modern era.
Disclaimer: since most people know the plot of Jane Eyre, I am going to be spoilery throughout the entire review. Mostly because I want to talk about the changes she made in the story and how they were executed, and that's a pain in the butt to do behind the spoiler cut. Especially since well, you can probably guess a lot of how it's going to go here!
Jane Moore has always been awkward and disliked. Her parents weren't terribly thrilled with her, and her brother and sister are just complete wastes of space and air as human beings. But even with her awful family, Jane is...a girl out of time, I'd say. She's not exactly super social or into modern things, and is just generally awkward around other people. Her main interest in life is painting. She goes to Sarah Lawrence for college, but after her parents die and she's pretty much disinherited, she can't afford it any more and has to drop out and get a job.
Jane ends up getting a job as nanny to the daughter of Nico Rathburn, a famous (one of those legend types who hasn't been as prominent in recent years and is about to have a comeback--he's clearly modeled after Springsteen and the author confirms it at the end) guitar player and singer. She primarily gets the job because Jane is so out of touch with the rest of the world that she barely knows that the man exists, and primarily does because her brother played one of the man's albums incessantly. Jane likes the one album, but isn't so into the rest of his music at first. At any rate, she's an unlikely candidate to become a drooling fangirl and have that interfere with her work.
Well, you'd assume that, anyway. But Nico is taken with Jane despite her being poor and plain and generally quiet. Because she tells him what's what, she's honest, she's firm, and she can both give him respect and take him down a peg when he needs it. Despite her youth and awkwardness, they're a good match when they're having conversations. Buuuuuuut....the dude has a secret that will bust up their happy union.
What's good about this one:
- We skipped through the school/Poor Harriet stuff in this one, which I was totally fine with. Jane's uninterested parents and shitty siblings are enough of a bad deal to have to live with, especially when they apparently ended up with all of the money.
- I really like the idea of having "Rochester" be a rock star. It works really well for this time period and is just fun to read about. It especially adds needed contrast and status issues to the scenario, plus there's always that fascination that a lot of us have with musicians. The character works well in this dynamic, big time.
- I liked how the "compare myself to the beauty of the other woman" scene was handled here, since Jane's an artist.
- I liked the women who tried to befriend Jane, and wish they had succeeded. Didn't mind the "makeover" scene either.
- Sex happens! The way it does with modern adults! Woo!
- Actually explaining that Nico's wife has schizophrenia--and that he blames himself for her condition because he didn't know it ran in her family AND he introduced her to a metric fuckton of drugs that probably brought it on--really worked with the story. We even see Bibi in a moment of non-total-rage-crazy, which makes it more believable that Nico would still care about her enough to keep her safe. And Jane can't help but realize that if Bibi would take her medication, she could very well come back to him in some way enough for them to be together romantically again. That's a nice thing to see in this story, which is usually about how Rochester was forced into marrying this crazy bitch he doesn't care about and really, isn't he entitled to get someone else he wants even if he's still trapped with this one?
- The "St. John" period is handled pretty well. This Jane only flees as far as New Haven, where she's taken in by the Rivers siblings--who in this story, aren't her long-lost relatives, nor does she come into any inheritance. Which is more plausible, so I'm fine with it. Apparently she manages to get a job without showing any ID (how is that happening now?! I guess Sinclair got her a pass there?), but other than that she sounds like she's staying off the grid and avoiding listening to the radio/TV and shopping at a co-op so she doesn't see tabloids. Note to self: should I ever break up with a famous musician and I need to stick my head in the sand so as to not know what happened to him, co-op shopping is totally the way to go! The only person that pegs her right off is a mentally ill homeless woman that the cops don't believe, so...it's a bit of a stretch, but I guess it works that Jane isn't noticed in plain sight, especially since she wasn't with Nico publicly for long.
- Sinclair (St. John) is...pretty much the annoying modern version of the original. Though I do like that he admits to being socially awkward and not really good with small talk and making people feel comfortable.
- The supernatural aspect of the story is completely replaced with a modern equivalent of a "sign"-- Jane finally hearing Nico's new song for her on the radio and being directed to see a documentary that was just made about him. While I've always liked the supernatural voices scene in the book, this worked well, even if the documentary seemed a little overly emphasized on Jane more than it seemed plausible.
- Nico's hand being injured...yup, terrible for a guitar player. His sight was left alone, which was also just fine by me since that was always pretty weirdly implausible in the original (and the book I'll mention tomorrow).
- I liked the ending, which fit just fine to me and wasn't all "babies ever after" for a 19-year-old. I like how Jane came into her own with some authority. Plus how Nico wondered if he was on some kind of drug trip when he saw her, hah.
What's not so good about this one:
- One does wonder that the paparazzi/tabloids never bothered to find out there was no divorce. That's...less believable in 2010. I've seen enough "so-and-so is now officially divorced" notices in magazines/online to think that someone would have kept track of that shit now.
- Why the hell would Jane even give a shit about checking on her siblings, who make it clear that they have no use for her unless she can do something for them or give them money even though she's broke? I know she's nice and all, and it happened in the original, but she's not stupid. Other things got thrown out in this adaptation, so why not this bit?
- Jane is...an odd character, I have to say. She's just so formal and from another world that it's hard to relate to her in some respects. It's like she sprung forth from Zeus's head or something, with little or no relation to how 19-year-olds operate in our culture. Or for that matter, how humans operate. I felt sorry for the folks who were trying to befriend her, but she's just too awkward or whatever to go for it. She's a nice enough girl, I suppose, but not exactly secretly brimming with the passion and will that the original girl had either. She's almost all wallflower, rather than being a passionate girl hiding in the closet about it. She has her moments, but I wasn't super attached to her, I guess. I was more attached to Nico.
Overall, I'm going to give it three and a half stars. Not bad for what it's going for.