[originally posted to GoodReads]
I tend to steer clear of Jane Eyre retellings, because I know the original book so well that the retellings seem to leave me both disappointed and craving the passions of Bronte’s world. This is the first time I’ve come across a straight retelling that actually does move the Jane Eyre tale lock, stock and barrel into the current era. She hews so closely to the original it almost feels as if she had a spreadsheet set up to make sure that each part of her story fell into the same blocks. For a die-hard fan of Jane Eyre, one who at one time had the book memorised, it’s a great deal of fun. Since I knew what was coming I derived no small amount of pleasure trying to figure out how she’d move this or that part of the tale into the 21st century. (“How will she handle the gypsy woman at the party?”)
The book loses that half a star for the handling of one element–St. John Rivers. I maintain that the way a modern author handles the Rivers Interlude is the make-or-break of any Eyre pastiche. He is such a difficult character in the original; without his sisters to soften him he’s even worse. Chrissy Breen Keffer did a marvelous job of making him both sympathetic and insufferable, the way St. John Rivers (herein called Jonathan Stone) should be. But my problem came at the very end of the Rivers Interlude. After building a very plausible and conflict-filled scenario that moved pompous, pious Rivers into the modern era, Breen Keefer concluded the whole thing in a rush that felt both forced and unrealistic. That didn’t matter too much, though, because by that point you know what’s coming and you just want her to say her goodbyes to the fellow and get back to Rochester.
If you’re at all a fan of Bronte’s timeless classic, I suggest you invest the dollar to give this book a bit of your attention. You’ll indeed find out just exactly how timeless Bronte’s plot and characters truly are.