Title: My Plain Jane
Authors: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
Genre: Historical Fiction, Retellings
Category: Young Adult
Status: Book 2 of The Lady Janies trilogy but can be read as a standalone.
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.
I read My Lady Jane, book 1, and I absolutely loved it. I added this to my TBR immediately. While I know that expectations set you for disappointment, this one did. I expected a lot of humour, fantasy elements and a story that’ll take me for a spin. And I got it.
I should also mention: I really disliked Jane Eyre. I heard so much about it but I just found the romance stupid. Which was sad. But this retelling took everything I didn’t like and changed it, also subtly mocking some stupid things that I mocked.
In Jane Eyre, Jane taught in her school, became a governess and fell in love with Mr. Rochester, who was already married btw.
In this book, we follow almost the same events but with a few changes and additions. Let me summarize using a list:
- Jane can see ghosts. Her best friend Helen is a ghost.
- Charlotte Brontë is a character. She loves to write and is waiting for the right story.
- Alexander Blackood is part of the Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits (I shall explain below). He can see ghosts as well. He wants to recruit Jane for the Society.
For the most part, we follow the same story as Jane Eyre but with these new additions and characters.
I prefer the retelling way more than the actual story.
Why this story is really good:
- Charlotte Brontë is a sensible, sarcastic and brave character. I love her the best. She frequently curses corsets, calls out stupid things and goes after what she wants. She loves writing and always has a book and pen in hand, waiting for the perfect story. Charlotte writes down all the scribbles. Anything that might become a story. I loved her.
That had all been fine, Charlotte thought, especially that bit about the porridge. But this was supposed to be a NOVEL. There had to be more than just a simple observation. There had to be a story. A plot. A level of intrigue.
The corsets thing was mentioned more than once, and all by Charlotte because she sees all the stupid patriarchy things.
“They’re coming here.” Jane pressed a hand to her forehead as if she was suddenly feeling faint. Which didn’t alarm Charlotte, as young women of this time period felt faint regularly. Because corsets.
Charlotte was the most humourous and witty part of the book.
- Jane is a but more interesting here, but not that much. Probably because the authors kept her mostly the same to mock all her decisions and naivete. The most interesting part about her was the ghosts.
She could see all ghosts. All ghosts think she’s beautiful and do what she says. She (and hence, we) don’t know until later that it’s because she’s a Beacon. A very rare person.
Jane is also described as a very plain girl. Just good enough but nothing on other very beautiful women. She’s just plain. But that’s to humans.
“I forgive you,” Jan said.
“What??” Helen exclaimed.
I laughed quite a bit because of Jane as well, but only because we’re mocking Jane. I loved all of that.
- Helen, Jane’s best friend who’s a ghost, was delightfully entertaining. Whenever Jane did not have sense, Helen’s remarks made me laugh out loud. Her reactions were what should have been Jane’s.
“This is going so well,” Jane said.
“We’re all going to die,” said Helen.
- Alexander Blackwood has completely devoted to the Society. What is the society? Basically, it’s this. You have a problem because of a ghost making ruckus? Call the Society. They’ll send someone over who’ll trap the ghost in a specific item related to the death. Problem solved.
Alexander represented the man who didn’t see sense in patriarchal ways and prefers sticking to his habits. Also since the Society people wear masks all the time, he feels naked without it. He also gets annoyed with normal drama.
Mr. Blackwood sighed yet again. (With all that sighing, air supply might soon be in short supply inside the inn.)
Alexander, on order from his superior, pursues Jane to recruit her for the Society since a Beacon is very important and useful.
Alexander couldn’t wait until his life revolved around ghosts again.
- Branwell Brontë is the clumsy Society member. He can see ghosts but is awful at doing his job. Alexander is supposed to train him but it’s not going well. Also Bran is Charlotte’s brother.
While I initially felt his addition was just for the jest and humour, I actually ended up liking him. He tries hard and just can’t help being stupid at times.
- I loved all the feelings of a writer put down in relation to Charlotte.
Writing could let out the pent-up emotions the way a doctor might bleed his patients. But it also made her feel empty, like this writing was all that she would be permitted to have.
- Above all, the mockery was the best. Especially of the stupid opinions of the time such as women being week and incapable.
“The stress of the job became too much for her. Women have such delicate faculties.” That made no sense.
- The book also mocked Mr. Rochester. I loved it. It’s all correct and deserved.
“I could not afford it: school are so dear,” replied Rochester.
Alexander glanced around the lavishly decorated house, which had to have at least twenty bedrooms and two kitchens, a stable, orchards and fields and garden surrounding, and not to mention a carriage house filled with vehicles all bearing the Thornfield crest.
Oh, yes. Schools were so dear.
- The amount of mentions of tea, though! Living up to the image of Britishers we all have lol.
And to make matters worse, they were out of tea.
I had so much fun reading it! I really liked it. I found myself laughing out loud so many times. While it’s not a 5/5 (I didn’t find it bloody amazing), it’s still really good.
Sorry not sorry about my review being half quotes lol. I actually highlighted way more but held myself back.