Book Review: My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton

My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies, #2)

I have read a couple other retellings of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, and I have not found one yet that I really liked. And yet this one might just have broken that stigma I have against Jane Eyre retellings. Yes, it’s not perfect and a bit of a mess, but I found myself laughing throughout and thoroughly enjoying the journey. In fact, this is one of the strangest books I’ve ever read and I wish it had been out about ten years ago, because I think I would have enjoyed it more as a teen.

Release: June 2018

Page Count: 447

Synopsis: You know the story. A penniless orphan goes to be a governess at a mysterious house and falls in love with its brooding owner. He loves her back and they marry…or do they? (from Goodreads) “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.”

Non-Spoiler Review

This book is less of a retelling of Jane Eyre and more of a parody of it, pulling from the book, Charlotte Brontë’s life, and ghosts…lots of ghosts. Thus, you shouldn’t go into this book expecting a good and moving retelling of Jane Eyre. The plot follows twists and turns which are sometimes a mess but always amusing. The book is mostly told from the three perspectives of Jane, Charlotte, and Alexander, who all feel equally the main character as opposed to Jane being the main character. Despite the book being long, it felt like a very quick read.

It reminded me a bit of books like Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer or Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s got a similar dark humor and twists and turns in adventure. Saying that, when it comes to my more critical writer’s eyes, the book has a lot of imperfections. The random conveniences are aplenty and at some points I was annoyed that too much was happening too quickly. Saying that, I kind of found myself suspending disbelief more than usual, simply because from the first page the book clearly shows us that this world is filled with humorous conveniences that wouldn’t necessarily fit in the real world. But this book feels set more in a parody world, so I didn’t mind it.

This book is also highly historically inaccurate, from using modern terms and phrases to Charlotte Brontë’s life not fitting with her actual life. Saying that, I didn’t really mind it because, again, this book clearly isn’t trying to be historically accurate, and pocks fun both at historical norms and historical/literary figures.

It’s also interesting to have ghosts added into the mix. Alexander works for a powerful organization which hunts and captures ghosts, and he tries to recruit Jane after he sees she can not only see ghosts but control them. This is much more the focus of the book instead of the story of Jane Eyre herself, which is kind of used more as a backdrop.

I was considering to get into the spoilers of the ending, but I enjoyed this book so much that I don’t think I will. I will say, the ending was rather different than I at first expected it to be but not completely unpleasant.

The one brief SPOILER I will give is that the book ends with Charlotte writing the idealized version of Jane Eyre, also known as the version we have, and showing it to Jane. It’s interesting that the book choose to have the real story have ghosts and craziness in it when the original book is in fact so much more…real. Anyway, I thought that was funny.

I know this is the second book of a series about different Janes in history. The first book is My Lady Jane, following Jane, the cousin of Edward, the son of Henry VIII of England. The third book is My Calamity Jane, following the historical figure Calamity Jane in the wild west. The third book is set to release in June of 2020. I’ve already ordered them both from the library, as I enjoyed this one so much. It’s just a light, kind of stupid, enjoyable read.

Have you heard of this series? Does it look interesting to you? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

3 thoughts on “Book Review: My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton

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