- 3 Out of 5 Stars
- 224 pages
- Published September 19th, 2017 by Archaia
- ISBN1608869814 (ISBN13: 9781608869817)
- Edition LanguageEnglish
- Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Nominee for Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)
- Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team (for Ramón K. Perez) (2018)
From the publisher, “A reimagining of Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel Jane Eyre set in the present day, written by acclaimed screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna and Eisner Award-winning illustrator Ramón K. Pérez.
Growing up in a broken home in a small fishing town, Jane dreamed of escaping to art school and following the allure of New York City. When that dream becomes a reality, however, it’s not long before she feels out of place by the size of the city and the talent of her peers. She soon discovers her place as she begins to nanny a young girl named Adele, but that is upended when she falls for the girl’s father, Rochester, a sardonic man of power, wealth, and unexpected charm. Jane learns that in the world of New York’s elite, secrets are the greatest extravagance and she’ll have to decide if she should trust the man she loves or do whatever it takes to protect Adele from the consequences of his deception.”
Excerpt from Jane by Aline Brosch McKenna
Clearly, Rochester is the worst father in the world. Then the apartment. No way it could be creepier. Locked doors, a strange man wandering in, all these portraits of the dead wife…the whole thing is overseen by Magda the Crypt-Keeper. I’m telling you, something weird is happening in that apartment.
Jane is a modern retelling of the original Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Jane is an orphaned art student who worked as a fishmonger to save up enough money to move to New York City. Slinging fish builds character people! Her art scholarship requires her to get a job, and she finds one with a reclusive billionaire as a nanny to his daughter, Adele. Jane brings calmness and balance to the daughter and by extension to the way-too-good looking billionaire father. Because again, Jane has character. Jane Eyre has now become a sort of Cinderella/Billionaire/Fifty Shades thing. We go back to the gothic part of the story where there is a door that Jane must never touch at the top of the stairs. Rochester, the father, acts quite abusive and poorly in a few scenes and blames it on alcohol. It isn’t that it is not true to the feel of the original story, because right there, there are tons of “what the hell” moments in the original text. McKenna works with what she has got. But, the original version seems very apt for the period in which it was written. I am not sure that the mores that the characters display can be transferred to modern sensibilities. Eventually, Jane falls in love with Rochester. Rochester falls in love with Jane. Relationship weirdness happens, and somehow they all end up on a mysterious island. I will stop there and save the ending.
I am not a huge fan of Gothic stories. I have tried quite a few of the Bronte books and always found that they take themselves too seriously. Everything in a Gothic story is at it’s most dire or most exquisite or whatever all the time. There never seems to be much subtlety or small moments. This is just a personal preference, do not come at me Wuthering Heights lovers and Jane Eyre fans. But, cmon! They are exhausting to read. Jane, however, goes too far in the other direction. It is a whole lot of subtle moments that climax into a V.C Andrews WTF ending. It feels unbalanced. The rest of the story is almost yawn-inducing then the last ten pages of the story seem to become an entirely different book with blockbuster movie effects.
Additionally, the various adaptions that Brosch takes with the original Jane Eyre story are problematic. Firstly, there is the doe-eyed feel of the new Jane character. It feels wrong and out of place in the story. In the original Jane Eyre, Jane seems like a solid and assertive character. Jane from the new adaptation is to unsure of herself to come off as confident, she comes off more as “please sir, may I have another.” Secondly, Rochester never has a moment of redemption. He starts off as a handsome, rich jerk and pretty much ends up that way. The moment of the redemption that occurs in the original story is left out of this one.
OK, so you came for a Jane Eyre story, but here is what you stay for. The art. The art in this story is exceptionally well done. Uniformly well done. Ramon K. Perez excelled at styling and coloring the panels to give the story various moods and atmospheres. For example, we see Jane often riding the train in New York City. She is recognized as colorful, while the train riders all around her a muted green. Anyone who has lived in a big city can understand a unique kind of loneliness of a train car full of people, but feeling utterly alone.
Overall, this isn’t a bad story. I don’t believe it is as successful as it could have been. I think some of the choices made were wrong for the story and the characters needed more fleshing out. But, I think that many readers will find a lot of enjoyment in the story, it just didn’t resonate with me. That being said, I will revisit this story to stare at the art. The art elevates the lackluster story significantly. Let me know what you think.
I checked this out from the library.
About the Author
Aline Brosh McKenna is an award-winning filmmaker and one of the highest-grossing female screenwriters of all time. McKenna is best-known for the film adaptation of the popular novel, The Devil Wears Prada. The screenplay is considered a modern classic, filled with memorable and oft-quoted lines, and features one of Meryl Streep’s signature roles as the imperious magazine editor, Miranda Priestly. In 2006, McKenna garnered Writers Guild, BAFTA, and Scripter award nominations for the worldwide box office hit.
In 2014, McKenna added television to her resume when she co-created the critically acclaimed Emmy Award-winning CW series, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend with its star, Rachel Bloom. She has been Showrunner, Head Writer, and Executive Producer since its inception. McKenna also directed the Season 1 finale and directed and wrote the Season 2 finale of the show.
McKenna’s feature film credits include the worldwide hit and perennial wedding favorite, 27 Dresses, starring Katherine Heigl; Morning Glory, starring Rachel MacAdams and Harrison Ford; the Cameron Crowe-directed, Matt Damon vehicle, We Bought A Zoo; and her adaptation of the musical Annie, which was acclaimed for its diverse cast and unique approach to updating the Broadway classic.