Jane/April Lindner: Reflections

Friday, January 7, 2011

This time, I begin at the back, with the featured book's final pages.  I begin, in other words, with the author's note and acknowledgments folded into April Lindner's debut novel, Jane, her modern-day retelling of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. 

It's in the author's note that Lindner writes of being on Team Charlotte (Bronte, as opposed to Team Jane Austen)—of her love for Jane, the "freethinker," and for Mr. Rochester, "the sexiest guy in literature."  It's in the acknowledgments that Lindner explains that her 21st century Mr. Rochester, a rock star named Nico Rathburn, was inspired by none other than Bruce Springsteen, the "rocker who has given me so much inspiration, solace, and joy, and who has served as a model of how an artist giving his all can truly work magic in the night.  Without the soul-transporting music and electrifying stage presence of Bruce Springsteen and the legendary E Street Band, this book would not have been written.  It's that simple."

I don't know why I tend to read the back of books first, but I do, and in this case, it was just what I needed to put Lindner's novel into context.  Lindner's passion for Jane Eyre is transparent in these pages.  She is utterly true to the arc of the original—presenting us with a sensible young woman who finds herself taking a nanny job in the estate of a brooding, wealthy rocker.  Strange things occur in this Rathburn estate (called Thornfield), and Jane's not the kind of girl any one would peg as the would-be girlfriend of a troubled-past rocker.  But things unfold as they must, and soon Jane and Nico are deeply in love with each other—engaged to be married and just about to tie the knot when the terrible secret at the heart of Thornfield is revealed.

Those who have read the original Jane Eyre will know what happens next, but it's fun to see just how Lindner pulls this all off—where she takes 19-year-old Jane, how she evolves the rocker, and how she gives this romance its final hopeful breaths.  I read the book in a single sitting, intrigued by the premise and wishing that Lindner and I had together gone to a Springsteen concert, or two.  I suspect she'd be a delightful, joyous companion.


Lilian Nattel said...

I loved Jane Eyre as a kid. And I found it terrifying too. I'm curious to read the new rendition.

Florinda said...

I'm not the biggest Jane Eyre fan, but this re-working does sound intriguing. However, I am a big fan of reading authors' notes first; I do that most of the time.

I know you don't seek out these things, so I thought I'd let you know that I posted a recap of my 2010 reading earlier this week. One of your novels is on my Books of the Year list, and you are my Author of the Year. Thank you :-).

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I think I need to re-read Jane Eyre.

Having grown up in a home surrounded by books and reading women, it's strange I never had exposure to Jane Austen. I did read the Brontes. Interesting to see Lindner's camp idea.

Ally said...

I love, love, love Jane Eyre. I have this dusty, battered old copy I found as a kid and would never replace... looking very much forward, now, to reading this homage.

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