My "3 Books" guest post on Alison Can Read for books that re-imagine Jane Eyre, has inspired me to blog more on books that are retellings of Jane Eyre. It's kind of my obsession... It's okay, I can stop whenever I want though. But not today. There are more "contemporary" (modern) retellings than there are historical or science fiction type so I thought I would pick a past, future, and space time novel for this post. So here are three more books with the theme of Jane Eyre.
Sloane Hall by Libby Sternberg places the story at the end of the twenties, and around the time of the end of the silent movie era. This novel is also the first and only one (I believe) to switch genders between the main characters, so that "Jane" is now lowly chauffeur John Doyle to "Mr. Rochester"- film star Pauline Sloane. With this change, the dynamic of the story is considerably different. I found both John and Pauline much less sympathetic and weaker than their original counterparts. Libby Sternberg does a fantastic job of transposing scenes and plot points from Jane Eyre into the (well researched) golden era of Hollywood. Pauline Sloane's "secret" was a disappointment to me (as in not enough to break up true love) but it was definitely a surprise. It was fun to read how familiar scenes can become so different in Libby's book, but I wasn't as impressed with John and Pauline's romance.
I believe Jane_E, Friendless Orphan by Erin McCole-Cupp takes place future Earth (I would double check, but I bought this as an ebook from B&N, but now I use kindle and can't convert, Ugh. I would definitely buy a print copy of this book because it's my favorite retelling, but the price is currently pretty ridiculous. $25 for paperback!?) This novel is characterized by really inventive futuristic changes (like Mrs. Fairfax is a hologram!), and a spiky, literally kick-ass heroine in Jane_E. Jane's "Lowood" is a school where they train girls to deliver secret, sensitive information for clients who pay well so Jane is also well trained in martial arts. Resulting in a fun scene where when Thorne (Rochester) appears for the first time and is trying to get into his house. Jane mistakes him for a robber however, and incapacitates him. This novel is most amazing though for the chemistry between Jane_E and Thorne; it's fun and spirited and so romantic. And the farewell scene is heartbreaking!
Jenna Starborn by Sharon Shinn might be the first actual retelling of Jane Eyre - one that closely follows the plot of the original novel - and features interplanetary travel, and the main action centers on a planet called Fieldstone which does not have it's own oxygen and must rely on air bubbles around all the towns and houses, including Thorrastone Park. (Don't worry, there still manages to be a storm on the night of the proposal). The author condenses Jenna's childhood as an artificially gestated baby who is unwanted by the woman who commissioned her, and so Jenna learns nuclear technology as a way to gain a place in a society where her birth means she is of a lower class. This novel sets up a very rigid class hierarchy which makes the love story between Jenna and Everett Ravenbeck that much more romantic. And you know that year Jane spends with her cousins in the original novel? Well Jenna just takes a year-long trip to a far-away planet and is held in cryo-stasis for the duration. A great way to quickly advance the time Jenna must be apart from Everett. There are many intriguing and unique touches to this novel, and an interesting look at why class prejudices still persist in modern society.