I also have moments where I’m like, LET’S GO MAX OUT OUR LIBRARY DOWNLOADS ON WHATEVER’S AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW, MOSTLY YA! A girl’s gotta go hog wild from time to time. All of which is how I came to read a YA adaptation of Jane Eyre.
I like this sort of thing in THEORY, but I read a lot of adaptations/sequels for Rebecca and Jane Eyre when writing my graduating paper, and almost universally hated them. It’s like I don’t even know my own mind.
So in this one, Jane is a mousy little wren of an art student who had to drop out because her parents died and now she’s nannying to make up tuition money, and she’s chosen for this job by the agency because she doesn’t care about celebrities and this is NICO RATHBURN, rock star, for whose child she’ll be caring.
And let me say, here and now, that I am sick of the skinny-girl-who-can-eat-whatever-she-wants trope. I don’t like it for a heroine, I don’t like it for a sidekick, I don’t like it for a rival. It’s dumb, it minimizes the efforts of girls who work hard to be a healthy weight, and in the case of the rival it usually presumes an eating disorder. Also, it’s overdone and lazy. Let’s all stop.
So Jane shows up at Nico’s house and it’s fancy and upscale and has ‘a well-stocked library with shelves so high a ladder was needed to reach them.’
Ok, and one of my beefs is how closely some of the scenes parallel JE, especially when they DON’T WORK IN THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT. So, Jane is almost run over by a sleek black
horse sports car, and a man climbs out and is like, The hell, and they have a Conversation only she has just spent the last few days Googling the shit out of this guy, so HOWWWWW does she go the whole scene without recognizing him? (A later scene tries to explain it away by being all, Oh, I guess he looks different in real life than in magazine photos, which, fine, I might not recognize Ryan Gosling in the street unless he almost ran me over with his car and also I’d spent the previous three days thinking about him [which could be any day, really].)
Also, the man’s dog is named Copilot, which I alternately think is adorable and stupid.
Anywert, Nico Rathburn is a tattooed, earring-and-shark’s-tooth-neclace-wearing rock star who is either a poorly-drawn bad boy, or I am much too old for this shit. (Or far, far too young. I prefer my brooders in cravats and plus-fours, thanks.)
And then follows a scene almost verbatim from JE where Nico/Edward’s daughter/ward asks for a present and if he bought Jane a present, too, and then he asks her if she expected one and if I WANTED to read Jane Eyre, I’d be reading Jane Eyre.
Anyway, things happen and events transpire and Nico comes to rely on Jane’s grave and unflinching opinion about such things as what shirt he should wear and whether he should grow a soul patch (he should not, as he is not my loser boyfriend circa 2001). They have conversations about his youth and meteoric rise to stardom, and his years of addiction and his ex-wife, and Jane’s like, Where is she? And Nico’s all, ‘She’s far away…Out of my reach.’ And I’m like, IS SHE IN THE ATTIC? Because you can get there. There stairs are just right over there.
There are a number of hilarious moments, such as when Nico learns that Jane can’t swim, so he tells her that he’ll teach her and she digs through her drawers and finds her bathing suit from a few years ago, all ‘I hadn’t tossed it out after all.’ Only, this isn’t your house and you aren’t pawing through old boxes in the garage. You would have noticed packing it, madam.
Or when one of Nico’s bandmates’ ‘pale face and thick, black-framed glasses seem an ironic twist on what rock-and-roll guitarists generally look like.’
And things are going along swimmingly until
Blanche Bianca Ingram (THAT IS ALMOST LITERALLY THE SAME NAME) shows up to photograph the band and sit next to Nico as ‘the bright manicured nails of her slender hand rest intimately on his forearm.’ Which is…a weird way to touch someone, nails-first.
And then Ambrose shows up and is mysteriously attacked in the attic with a steak knife, and the doctor is secretly called and is like, ‘This is an ugly wound. You say she used a steak knife to do this?’ and Nico is all, ‘She tried to…I got it away from her, but not before she’d done some damage.’ And I’m like, So…she did, then. None of this ‘tried to.’ Give Bertha her due.
And then Nico asks Jane to marry him in a scene NOT ENTIRELY UNLIKE the one in JE, and then Ambrose shows up and is like
and then a scene follows almost verbatim from JE where Nico hunkers outside Jane’s room while she fails to cry and finally emerges, dry-eyed. They discuss his mad wife and why he couldn’t put her in a home because have you seen those? (which is a legit reason for 1847 but rings a little hollow in 2010) and why he couldn’t get a divorce or an annulment because he couldn’t do that to her (ibid and also SHE’S MAD. She’d never know).
THEN Jane hares off to Nowheresville and that weird novella-within-a-novel happens where she meets the Riverses and St John asks her to marry him but instead of leaving her money in the carriage, she thinks she can’t withdraw any cash because Nico will be able to track her, so INSTEAD of a distant relative dying and leaving her funds that make her, if not Mr Rochester’s social equal, at least not quite so much his dependent, she just decides like, Wait, I had a hot piece of ass there. Bigamy be damned.
So she comes back, the manor house has burned down,
Bertha Bibi is dead, Nico is very slightly maimed but could totally play guitar again if he’d just apply himself to his physio (which is a MADDDD cop-out from the battered and blinded Mr Rochester), and everyone lives HEA.
And the thing doesn’t work on so many levels. You can’t have Mr Rochester’s formality and reserve AND a rock star’s potty mouth. In fact, you can’t have Mr Rochester OR Jane outside of the 19th century. Their bizarre combinations of forthrightness and reserve DO NOT WORK on 21st century characters, or at least, not these ones.
The whole book is like when you copy-paste a sentence into a paragraph but forget to change it so that it makes sense.
Five caterpillars, since (soul patch aside) it’s not horribly written.