Title: My Plain Jane
Authors: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)
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.
My Plain Jane is a rather creative and silly retelling of Charlotte Brontë and Jane Eyre, a re-imagining of the author and one of her most famous heroines made flesh and a fellow resident of Charlotte's boarding school. But, as this is Victorian England, gothic adventures and mysteries are afoot, and it isn't long until both girls are wrapped up in an epic ghost hunt.
Charlotte is watchful and observant, looking for bits and pieces she can put into her stories. Sure, the school she lives and studies at isn't the kindest or the warmest, but the man who was in charge of the school was recently murdered so things are looking up. Because he was the absolute worst. But who murdered him? Was it Jane Eyre, former student and current teacher at the school, someone Charlotte considers a good friend? Someone who wants more out of life, someone who wants to leave the school and be someone special and important? Whoever it was, with the appearance of the Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits in town, what follows is a curious ghost hunt and a rather bizarre series of events and circumstances.
I remember reading the first book by the three co-authors, finding the story about Lady Jane Grey and a royal family full of shapeshifters to be rather amusing and ridiculous in the way that over-the-top retellings can be. But I didn't enjoy this one as much, which is too bad. I just couldn't get past the idea of Jane Eyre being a real person, that Charlotte Brontë knew her and used her as inspiration for what would become one of her famous novels. Plus the secret society of ghost hunters. It was too much of a complete reworking of history that I couldn't get behind. That being said, I did like reading about Charlotte, how she was always writing stories, always thinking. Ready and willing to help, to get to the bottom of the mystery. Not willing to be left behind. I think this will appeal to bigger fans than I of the first book as well as fans of rather outrageous and unbelievable retellings.
(I received an advance copy of this title from HarperCollins Canada.)