What if Jane Eyre fell in love with a rock star? This is what happens in April Lindner’s Jane, a modernization of Charlotte Brontë’s classic work. The result is a hot retelling that teens will relate to in a heartbeat. Rock star with a wild past? Check. Teen girl with a family who doesn’t understand her? Check. Passionate, roller coaster love story? All right!
When author Lindner first saw a Pride and Prejudice
remake, she thought, “Not bad, but couldn’t they have chosen a better book?” Looking at her favorite classic authors, she realized that Brontë’s Jane Eyre
would make for a good challenge. That challenge would prove to be steep, however. She wanted to remain as faithful as possible to the original work but make it inviting and understandable to the average young adult reader. The first difficulty was finding a modern reason for the class differences between Jane and Mr. Rochester. Then she thought, “What bigger chasm exists than between a poor orphan and the rich and famous?” (Not direct quotes).
After that, the story flowed more easily, though Linder worked hard to continue the close parallels between the stories. Several of the characters’ names were modernized but remained very similar. For example, Nico Rathburn sounds like a hip rock star much more so than Nicholas Rochester. The plot remained faithful in most twist and turns, from the partying of Rochester’s friends and jealousy of beautiful Blanche (Bianca to Linder) to the attempted murders of Mason and Mr. Rochester. Lindner also did justice to the original characters themselves, especially Jane, who remained a strong and thoughtful individual. Her modesty with regards to her appearance, her honesty in her speech and interactions, and most of all her watchful perceptiveness of others is clearly portrayed in this new version.
The only segment of the original story strikingly absent in the new one is Jane’s childhood. A large chunk of Jane Eyre explains how Jane went from impetuous and stubborn to careful, meditative and appreciative of life. Although Lindner hints at a tough past with a bullying older brother and neglectful parents, the modern Jane is not orphaned so young nor is she sent away to endure extreme hardships at boarding school. Yet these life events are formative for her personality and without them, there is a certain depth lacking in Lindner’s Jane.
Although Linder’s writing will certainly captivate today’s audiences, the language can in no way compare to Brontë’s, whose passages are beautifully woven with descriptions that linger in the mind’s eye. Yet the lengthy conversations and musings of Brontë’s story can be cumbersome for the uninitiated or the modern teen reader. In this respect, by cutting to the chase but still remaining true to Brontë’s vision, April Lindner’s Jane remains a mystery, a love story, and a tale of self-discovery that will resonate with teens and anyone who has ever been one.