Title: My Plain Jane
Position: Book Two in the Lady Janies series
Author: Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton
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.
Two books into this companion series, I’ve never loved the books, but I really enjoy them, and that’s enough for me.
Like the first book in this series, My Lady Jane, My Plain Jane takes a story you already know (well, if you had an English class like I did and read Jane Eyre) and puts a supernatural twist on it, complete with modern-day-ish narrators who love to sprinkle in Harry Potter and Princess Bride references. I liked Jane Eyre in the beginning, before Rochester came onto the scene, and then I stopped caring and ending up Sparknoting the rest of the book (I know, I know, bad me, but I loved Sparknotes because I hated being told what to read – I’d much rather read a summary and then read the books that I actually liked). For my assigned essay, I apparently made my dislike of Rochester known so well known that my mom even made a comment about how much I seemed to hate him when she read it. Yeah, not a fan of brooding bad boys who are just old and creepy and lock their wives in the attic.
This book mostly flips things around, which I appreciated, but not perfectly. Some characters, including a great ghostly best friend, call out how creepy and rude Rochester can be and that it’s a bad idea for Jane to fall for him. There’s a twist involving Rochester, but I felt like we didn’t get to know this version of Rochester enough for me to really care about that. I also didn’t care too much about the other main romance in the book, between the real author of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë, and the third narrator, a ghost-hunter. I don’t know if it was because the book was set in pre-Victorian times, when men and women could barely exist around each other, let alone have a blooming romance, but it just didn’t interest me much.
I think that sums things up well with this book: it had a lot of great elements that I mostly enjoyed, but I didn’t love any of it. There were some twists that I saw coming and some I didn’t; some worked and some didn’t. I was interested to read this book, from the beginning to the end, but I never fell in love with it and I never felt the intense need to finish it and see where all the characters ended up. I think my favorite characters were side characters, not any of the main characters.
I’m really looking forward to the third (final? It’s the only other one that’s been announced so far) book in this companion series. I wouldn’t say that I’m the biggest fan of these books (as you can probably tell), but I am interested, and that’s not a bad thing. Plus, I want more of the references – a Mary Poppins reference was one of my favorites in this book. Historical books would be more interesting if they were obviously told by modern narrators who subsist on a steady diet of Disney and other great movies and books.