MY PLAIN JANE

With Brodi Ashton and Cynthia Hand.

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 Bronte, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

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School Library Journal
★ STARRED review!

Jane Eyre insists she wants to be a governess, although, really, no one wants to be a governess. When she lands a position at Thornhill, her friend Charlotte Brontë, who would rather be a writer, sees her reluctantly off. When Charlotte learns that her oddball friend Jane can see ghosts and, even more excitingly, has been offered a job by supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood, she’s more convinced than ever that Jane has made a mistake. People capable of seeing, and therefore hunting, ghosts are disappearing at an alarming rate, and Alexander needs Jane, so he and Charlotte set out to convince her. Only there’s something funny going on at Thornhill. And, quite unfortunately, Jane seems to have fallen for the fairly unappealing and kind of weird master of the house, Mr. Rochester. Despite plentiful references to The Princess Bride, make no mistake: this isn’t just a repeat of its thematic companion My Lady Jane (2016). Instead of a whimsical Tudor romance-adventure, this is a delightfully deadpan deconstruction of a Gothic novel, with a ghost almost no one can see providing the commentary. Marvelously self-aware and almost too clever for its own good, it’s a twisted version of Jane Eyre that will have teens and English teachers alike in stitches. Apologies to the real Charlotte Brontë, but you’ll need extra copies of this one.

Maggie Reagan


Booklist
★ STARRED review!

Gr 9 Up–This standalone alternate history novel inserts teenaged aspiring author Charlotte Brontë into the world of her own making (with the addition of ghosts) as she chronicles the life of her best friend at Lowood, Jane Eyre, as inspiration for her first novel. Charlotte’s authorial ambitions and Jane’s plans to become a governess are thwarted when Jane’s ability to see ghosts comes to the attention of Alexander Blackwood, an agent for the once-prestigious Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits. Determined to help his mentor restore the Society to its past glory, Alexander is keen to recruit Ms. Eyre as an agent—even if it means taking off his ever-present mask and accepting help from the overly eager Ms. Brontë and her screw-up brother. This simple task spirals into a madcap story of ghosts, possession, revenge, and murder as Charlotte, Jane, and Alexander must set aside their differences to solve the mysteries of Thornfield Hall, help the Society (and the ghosts), and maybe even save the King of England in the process. Narrated by Charlotte, Jane, and Alexander, this novel uses Jane Eyre as a loose framework. It humorously blends fact with fiction and offers a gentler, more hopeful outcome for Charlotte, her siblings, and her heroine. VERDICT A must-read for fans of My Lady Jane or Jane Eyre and a fun alternative for fans of paranormal romances.

–Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library


Publishers Weekly
★ STARRED review!

Hand, Ashton, and Meadows follow up My Lady Jane (about Lady Jane Gray) with another tongue-in-cheek novel about a famous Jane—this time, Jane Eyre. In this take on the classic, Jane and Charlotte Brontë are good friends from school, and as Jane’s story unfolds, Charlotte records every moment of it—at first writing it as a murder mystery, then a romance. Jane can also see ghosts, and the Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits determines that she is a rare Beacon (someone who can control ghosts), offering her a high-paying job. The chapters switch among the handsome young Alexander, a member of the Society; Charlotte, who convinces Alexander to give her a temp job (and who falls for Alexander); and Jane, who spurns her job offer, heads off to Thornfield, and falls for Rochester. The authors’ prose holds all the flavor of a juicy period novel yet with the addition of numerous, witty asides. The narrative is full of wry humor—at one point, Jane thinks to herself about Rochester, “He was everything she’d ever dreamed about. Tall. Dark. Brooding”—and laugh-out-loud commentary. The authors’ affection for their source material is abundantly clear in this clever, romantic farce. Ages 13–up. (June) Reviewed on 04/06/2018


Kirkus

Mysteries abound on the moors—and not all of them are of this world. When Charlotte Brontë’s best friend, Jane Eyre, is offered a job with the Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits, Charlotte is dismayed that Jane takes a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall instead. So Charlotte decides that she’s the right person for the job, even if she can’t see ghosts like Jane can. Nevertheless, she persists, joining her brother and his mentor, Alexander Blackwood, in serving the Society by trying to recruit Jane. Jane, however, has fallen in love with her employer and has no interest in leaving. A domino line of events follows the two white women and friends as they find love, work, ghosts, and strengths they never suspected. Hand, Ashton, and Meadows (My Lady Jane, 2016) offer up a fantastical, tongue-in-cheek plot that manages to both poke fun at and hold in high esteem the novel that provided the inspiration. A healthy dose of feminism and logic offers a contemporary perspective, often through the character of a ghost named Helen who isn’t afraid to call out Rochester’s patriarchal absurdities—even though most people can’t hear her. A passing familiarity with Jane Eyre is beneficial but not necessary for enjoying this book. Reader, it delighted. A fun, supernatural mashup of different literary novels that shines on its own merit. (Fantasy. 13-adult)