I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Review: The Paladin Prophecy

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Paladin Prophecy
by Mark Frost

Plot Summary:
Will West is careful to live life under the radar. At his parents' insistence, he's made sure to get mediocre grades and to stay in the middle of the pack on his cross-country team. Then Will slips up, accidentally scoring off the charts on a nationwide exam.

Now Will is being courted by an exclusive prep school . . . and is being followed by men driving black sedans. When Will suddenly loses his parents, he must flee to the school. There he begins to explore all that he's capable of--physical and mental feats that should be impossible--and learns that his abilities are connected to a struggle between titanic forces that has lasted for millennia.

This was a suspenseful page-turner, with so much plot to get across. I liked how the details of the book's universe was slowly laid out, which increases the suspense as you fit together the puzzle pieces. The humor was also a plus- there were many laugh-out-loud lines. Perhaps it is because of the fast-paced action that the characters all seemed to fit too handily into archetypes, but the story and witty writing made up for any issues I had with character development. (Received a copy of the book from NetGalley)

Review: A Breath of Eyre

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
A Breath of Eyre
by Eve Marie Mont

Plot Summary:
Emma Townsend has always believed in stories--the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates. Perhaps it's because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn't come close to filling the void left by her mother's death. And her only romantic prospect--apart from a crush on her English teacher--is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma's confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre. . .
Reading of Jane's isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane's body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she's never known--and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane's story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own. . .

With the premise, I was hoping Emma would have more interaction and have more of a romp in Jane Eyre's world, but the idea that Emma slips into the novel's world was mostly used as a device to help Emma figure out her own real-world problems.  The time spent at Thornfield was mostly a reiteration of the novel, except for the end when Emma deviates from Jane's path and realizes she doesn't really love Rochester (What?? incredible! My own bias here, but it does work for this story) and Bertha becomes a much more relatable and sympathetic figure. There are parallels to Emma's real life and Jane's story which are subtle and nicely thought out, and overall I really enjoyed Emma's journey independent of the Jane Eyre aspect.  Some of the commentary on Bertha's situation and Rochester's character I disagreed with as a reading of the novel "Jane Eyre", but it fitted in very well with the character development of Emma and what she needed to realize about herself. 

As a side thought, I realize that whenever I see a book like this - one that has a modern heroine in the world of Jane Eyre - I hope that it something like one of my favorite books/ favorite mini-series: Austenland by Shannon Hale and the British series "Lost in Austen".  They are both funny, irreverent and reverent takes on an Austen fan's outing in the world of their favorite novel and I really identify with their attachment to the story and the characters, perhaps to the detriment of their personal lives, but of course it all works out happily for them.  I wish someone could do that with Jane Eyre but I wonder if it is too difficult to take the character of Jane out of her story and replace her with another, because the novel is so much Jane's story, that one couldn't really comment on it with another heroine.  Probably the closest I'll  get is The Eyre Affair, which keeps Jane as a character in her own story and adds the new heroine parallel to it.  At any rate, there are so many creative people out there, maybe there will be a funny take on a modern heroine in Jane's place eventually.
Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: "The Flight of Gemma Hardy"

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
The Flight of Gemma Hardy
By Margot Livesey

Plot Summary:
Acclaimed, award-winning author Margot Livesey delivers her breakout novel: a captivating tale, set in Scotland in the early 1960s, that is both an homage and a modern variation on the enduring classic, Jane Eyre

Fate has not been kind to Gemma Hardy. Orphaned by the age of ten, neglected by a bitter and cruel aunt, sent to a boarding school where she is both servant and student, young Gemma seems destined for a life of hardship and loneliness. Yet her bright spirit burns strong. Fiercely intelligent, singularly determined, Gemma overcomes each challenge and setback, growing stronger and more certain of her path. Now an independent young woman with dreams of the future, she accepts a position as an au pair on the remote and beautiful Orkney Islands.

But Gemma's biggest trial is about to begin . . . a journey of passion and betrayal, secrets and lies, redemption and discovery that will lead her to a life she's never dreamed.

As the story of Gemma Hardy, this book was very interesting on it's own because the character of Gemma is compelling and very well constructed. As an homage to Jane Eyre, the childhood portion was very well fleshed out and updated for 1960s Scotland. The problems of childhood illness and what amounts to child abuse did not feel contrived when trying to make the problems feasible in the Sixties. What most disappointed me about the novel was the Mr. Sinclair section which was shorter than the other parts and felt rushed when it came to the romance. Gemma and Mr. Sinclair fell in love pretty fast in my opinion and I did not see how they could know they were soul mates. It would have helped if we were privy to more of their conversations. Mr. Sinclair's secret also felt a little anti-climactic because I didn't think it was so devastating. But the last part of the novel was again well developed with the new ties Gemma formed, and the resolution of her family history. The focus of the novel was definitely on Gemma Hardy and her development and not so much on a certain character that Jane Eyre fans might be interested in.

Review: "Jane"

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
by Marielena Zuniga

Plot Summary:
What if a present-day Jane Elliott and fictional character Jane Eyre find their lives so parallel that they are destined to help each other? And how challenging will that be for Jane Eyre, who knows nothing of how her life is unfolding, while Jane Elliott knows the entire story of Jane Eyre's life and how the book and the story of her life ends? After a bolt of lightning strikes Jane Elliott while she is reading Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte's love-torn character comes to life. The two eventually form a bond of friendship, helping each other on their journeys riddled with deceit and murder and a lifelong search for love and belonging.

I liked this book the best when it went off from the story of Jane Eyre, and Jane Elliot had to have interactions and conversations that could not be taken from Charlotte Bronte's novel. I found myself skipping over the many verbatim passages. Overall, I didn't feel this book really added any new layers to the original novel (in the interpretation of it) or to the idea of a modern Jane Eyre since Jane Elliot did not really stand out as a character on her own.

Review: "Anna and the French Kiss"

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Anna and the French Kiss
by Stephanie Perkins

Plot Summary:
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?

I loved the development and the focus on the characters, and how very much this made me want to visit Paris. This was a very sweet and entertaining romance. 

Review: "Selected Letters"

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Selected Letters
by Charlotte Brontë

These letters give an insight into the life of a writer whose novels continue to be bestsellers. They reveal much about Charlotte Bront:e's personal life, her family relationships, and the society in which she lived. Many of her early letters are written with vigour, vivacity, and an engaging aptitude for self-mockery. In contrast, her letters to her "master", the Belgian schoolteacher Constantin Heger, reveal her intense, obsessive longing for some response from him. Other letters are deeply moving, when Charlotte endures the agony of her brother's and sisters' untimely deaths. We learn also of the progress of her writing, including the astonishing success of Jane Eyre, and of her contacts with her publishers, including the young George Smith; and we recognize in her letters the life-experiences which are transmuted into the art of her novels. Contemporary society is brilliantly described in her letters from London, when she writes of her encounters with famous writers and with critics of her novels. We hear too of her visits to art galleries, operas, and the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the Crystal Palace. Dramatic letters written in December 1852 convey the "turbulence of feeling" in the Haworth curate Arthur Nicholls's proposal of marriage to her and in Mr Bront:e's violent reaction to it; and we subsequently hear of her secret correspondence with her suitor, her father's eventual consent, and her tragically brief happy marriage, cut short by her death in March 1855.

This was a great overview of Charlotte's life through her letters. I loved that there were footnotes after each letter (instead of having to turn to the back) and those footnotes were very helpful. Reading this book gave me a new insight into what Charlotte might have been like, and has made me think about her novels in a new light. Especially in how so many of her characters are based on people she knew.

Review: Jane_e, Friendless Orphan: A Memoir

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Jane_e, Friendless Orphan: A Memoir
by Erin McCole-Cupp

Plot Summary:
Born not in a past of corsets, bonnets and arranged marriages but in a future of human cloning, bioterror and fleeting relationships, could Jane Eyre survive?

Wow, this has become my favorite modern take on Jane Eyre. There were enough nods to the original, while also giving to the characters and the story unique spins to make the book intriguing and absorbing in it's own right. I especially thought the development of the romance was well done and enjoyed these particular characterizations of Jane and Thorne as Rochester.  It was actually really romantic at times, in that chest-clutching, heartfelt sighing kind of way.  I really loved this book!

Review: "Jane Eyre, Beware"

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Jane Eyre, Beware

By Anthony Auriemma and Carolyn Chambers Clark

Available as an ebook only.

Plot summary:
In this coming of age story, high school senior, Jane Lloyd, is forced to try out for the school play and take a part-time job as a car hop. As the year progresses, she becomes a hero for the girls in her school when she stops gropers. She goes too far when she plots to use the play as a vehicle to reveal the secret the class hottie's been keeping. Now she faces a major decision: play Jane Eyre as written, get into Columbia U and carry on the family tradition, or stop the class hottie .

Very entertaining read, with a fun pro-feminism revenge that isn't really related to Jane Eyre, but manages to work in a little bit of a relationship. I thought Jane Lloyd had a funny, neurotic narrative voice, that carried this chick-lit type story well.

First post

Posted by Charlene //
This blog will be for some thoughts on the joys of fandom and reviews of the books I am reading. Reviews are also posted on GoodReads, and for the moment, I am transferring some of my older reviews here. Hopefully with a blog I will become more loquacious. And hopefully that will be a good thing. My biggest interest and love is in all things Jane Eyre, and I would love to be able to read all the books that are inspired by that novel.