My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows – REVIEW
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.
“Mr. Blackwood sighed yet again. (With all that sighing, air might soon be in short supply inside the inn.)”
It’s actually been three months since I read the ARC of My Plain Jane and I honestly have no excuse for why I haven’t written this review yet except that I completely forgot about it. I loved My Lady Jane so was excited to see what the authors did with their retelling of Jane Eyre, which is one of my favourite books. Like the first book, this is witty, irreverent, light-hearted escapism that pokes fun at romance tropes and Jane Eyre itself. I couldn’t stop laughing at the number of times poor Jane was called plain. Thankfully, Helen Burns’s cutting commentary punctures any nonsense and questions the numerous ridiculous events that occur.
“Jane’s perception of men … tended to glorify tall, dark, and brooding ones. The broodier the better. And Mr. Rochester was among the broodiest.”
There are three points of view – sixteen-year-old Charlotte Brontë, eighteen-year-old Jane Eyre, and eighteen-year-old Alexander Blackwood. I found every character interesting so none of the chapters felt like they dragged. The inept fifteen-year-old Branwell was another brilliant character. The romance between Charlotte and Alexander was nicely written but I wasn’t quite as involved as I was with Jane Grey and Gifford. Some of my favourite moments were actually the little things such as the governess advert which was basically asking for Mary Poppins. I honestly couldn’t stop laughing at “Die, you evil teacup!” (you’ll understand this more when you read it!).
“He was not wearing a shirt. Which meant that, by pre-Victorian standards, anyway, he was more or less completely naked.”
The additions of ghosts to Jane Eyre might seem ridiculous (which it is) but it works. The plot was fun and I loved the references to popular fandoms such as Harry Potter, Princess Bride, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. It might not have been quite as good as My Lady Jane but I still thoroughly enjoyed it and that’s really the most important thing for me when rating a book. The next book in the series is based on Calamity Jane which already sounds fantastic. If you’re looking for a light-hearted young adult book, then you should definitely try this series.