So with this love fest, you can imagine my trepidation when Jane by April Lindner was published. I was so relieved to wholeheartedly enjoy the interpretation. It was gutsy to actually make the evil cousins of the original books her actual dissipated brother and selfish, beautiful sister, with all the sadness and cruelty contained in that relationship. Their parents die in a car accident and Jane, the youngest child habitually neglected by her distant parents, has to leave after one year of Sarah Lawrence College, because she can't afford to return. But what does a 19-year-old art and French major do for a living?
Become a nanny, of course. The nanny service quickly realize that this serious college student is not the usual pop culture junkie who comes their way, which immediately qualifies her for a plum position at rock star Nico Rathburn's home in Connecticut, Thornfield Park. She takes to his 5 year old daughter, Maddy, and the kind staff on the estate right away and is able to use the fields and outbuildings as wonderful fodder for her artwork. But enter Nico, and Jane's world is turned upside down.
I was fretting as I read about Jane being 19 and Nico being obviously older (probably in his mid-30s). Was this going to be creepy? But Lindner pulls it off, largely from writing Jane's character as a serious young woman with a deprived childhood which has aged her long past her real age. Combine that with Nico's extended adolescence and only recent membership in the adult club (right around the time he begins to pursue sobriety and fatherhood) and you've got two people pretty well matched in the maturity department.
I'm not going to put in any spoilers, but it's a wonderful writing job how she managed to handle the climax of the novel and I adored how she handled Jane's "wandering on the moors" part. Renaming St. John Rivers, Rivers St. John and making him a Yale Divinity School student bent on his upcoming Haitian mission who lives with his two charming sisters in a dilapidated apartment in New Haven is a stroke of genius. Jane's growth during this time felt very natural to me, as did the way she finds out about what happened to Nico after she left. It's a totally heartwarming ending, just like in the original. Total bliss.
Wuthering Heights, called Catherine, and set in punk scene of the East Village. I can totally picture Heathcliff as a punk rocker! I'll be interested to see if I like Cathy more in this context, because she really annoys me in the novel - we'll see if Lindner can work her magic on this one! The book is due out in 2012 and I will be sure to read it.