Emma Townsend has always believed in stories—the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates in her head. Perhaps it’s because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn’t come close to filling the void left by her mother’s death. And her only romantic prospect—apart from a crush on her English teacher—is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma’s confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre…
Reading of Jane’s isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane’s body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she’s never known—and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane’s story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own…
(Description from Goodreads)
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
During the spring semester of 2011, I took my senior seminar class for my undergraduate major, English (even though I wasn’t a senior until the 2011-2012 school year, I had to take my senior seminar a year early because of student teaching taking up my senior year spring semester.) The entire class was about the Bronte sisters; at first, I thought I was going to absolutely hate the class, but it turned out that it ended up being one of my favorite classes from my entire undergraduate career. That being said, Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte) ended up becoming my favorite book.
I decided to read this book because of the description (for once, it wasn’t so much about the cover, though it is a rather classic looking cover) and how it stated that it the main character, Emma, travels back and forth between the real world and Jane Eyre’s world throughout the book. It was a rather interesting concept, considering I’ve thought about what if I were the main character in a classic novel myself, so I felt compelled to read it. I must say, I was rather impressed with how Eve Marie Mont created this story and managed to have Emma “travel” back and forth between the two worlds. However, there were some things I wasn’t a fan of and others that were totally the author’s opinions (as anyone who has sat through an English literature class knows, literature is ALWAYS up for interpretation.)
First of all, there was a lot of different story lines within this book. Between the Jane Eyre world and Emma’s true world, there was a constant jumping back and forth between various plot points. They weren’t bad, but some of them didn’t serve a purpose to the story. I won’t say the plot points, since I don’t want to spoil anything in case someone decides to read this book, but a few times I found myself questioning what a certain aspect had anything to do with Jane Eyre. I suppose that the whole Emma falling into Jane Eyre’s position wasn’t meant to take up the majority of the book anyway and served more of a purpose to help Emma find out more about her true self, but I thought there would be quite a bit more Jane Eyre type of plot.
Another “problem” I had with this book was that the author literally copied and pasted from Jane Eyre. I suppose if one is going to write a sort of re-telling of a piece of classic literature, I shouldn’t really expect everything to be original, but since Emma had taken Jane Eyre’s place, I almost expected that the dialogue would have been different as well since it technically wasn’t Jane Eyre talking. That being said, some of the happenings in Jane Eyre were changed in this book, even though the dialogue wasn’t. There was this whole section about Bertha from Jane Eyre and Emma’s mom (who died when she was young) that made me both interested and confused. It was an interesting concept, but there were aspects to it that were not believable. If you want a different take on Bertha, I suggest reading Wide Sargasso Sea, a book I read during my fall semester of 2011 in my Victorian Literature class. Now that’s a good adaptation, even though it still isn’t a modern one, as I know the point of this one was.
As for Emma’s true world, there were a lot of cliches and a ton of heavy teen themes present. Why are the blonde girls always the evil ones? Being a natural blonde myself, I resent that. Give us a break every once in a while! But seriously, there were so many cliches. The evil girl group pick on the underdogs, the underdogs rise up and fight back, good triumphs over evil, blah, blah, blah. There’s nothing wrong with good beating evil, but it gets old after some time and quite honestly, it’s not always like that in real life. I guess that’s the point of a book though…it provides an escape from the realities into a realm where what is right always triumphs. There were also a ton of heavy issues pertaining to teens. Not just depression, but some characters even contemplated suicide. That’s some tough stuff, especially for young adults. It’s a real issue, no doubt, but wow…it was some heavy stuff.
I would say that this book was a great piece of Jane Eyre fan fiction, though I wouldn’t say it’s an adaptation, since it only included one part of Jane Eyre (spoiler alert: it’s the Thornfield part.) I could go on a rather lengthy tangent about various themes present in Jane Eyre that were either discussed too much in this book or too little, but that’s more of a discussion, and not so much a review. Even though I gave this book a rather average rating, I would still pass it off to a high school student, especially if they are studying Jane Eyre, as it might help them perhaps understand the book better (maybe…)