Fantasy · Historical Fiction · Humor · Retellings · Young Adult

My Plain Jane

I read the first of the novels by “The Lady Janies,” My Lady Jane, a few years ago on a snow day. It was a “retelling” of Lady Jane Grey, the queen for nine days of famous British historic lore, full of magic and shape-shifting and humor gave this tragic story a fun twist and a happy ending. So I was thrilled to learn that not only was this trio planning to write another Jane retelling, but it was going to be a Jane Eyre retelling – one of my favorite classics of all time! (You may recall me saying this same thing as I reviewed other retellings of it, like Brightly Burning.)

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton

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This “recap” of the plot will be basic, as I’ve already mentioned that this is a retelling of the famous novel by Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre. And all our favorite elements, like Jane being an orphan, her terrible “red room” experience, the horrific time at finishing school, becoming a governess at Thornfield Hall and falling in love with Mr. Rochester, the drama over Rochester’s still-around wife, Jane’s running away and time at a parsonage, her return to Thornfield, the terrible fire…they’re all still there. But this time, there are GHOSTS! And Charlotte herself is present, having adventures alongside Jane and writing it all down as ideas for the books she plans to write (some that make it into the final draft and some that are left out because “who would believe it?”). Plus, she gets her own love story. *satisfied sigh*

Well, just like the first book, this is some of the most fun I have ever had while reading a book. I’ll actually pull a combination comparison out that I used before, because I think it’s spot on here as well. This is like a combination of Princess Bride and Monty Python – humorous in a way that makes one snort out loud while reading. Like, I know many books that are described as funny that are, but like, I can still react to them silently. This book…this book pulled audible reactions out of me. And that is something that one can’t really put a price on. It’s humor that is well placed to appeal to present-day readers, as on point commentary of the customs and expectations of these Victorian England times, as well as just a general sarcastic bent that definitely appeals to me. Plus, there are many moments where the authors describe or reference events and books that are basically contemporary pop culture and finding those little gems as they popped up throughout made reading this that much more fun. I smiled almost the whole time I was reading and I cannot recommend that feeling enough.

As far as the plot, it was chock full of supernatural action and romantic drama from start to finish. Jane Eyre can see (and possibly even control) ghosts, there is a Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits, there are multiple murder mysteries, there are marriage proposals and secret crushes, there is a plot to control the king and take over the country, there are betrayals and possessions, and there is so much more! I loved the way that the elements of Jane Eyre the novel and Charlotte Brontë’s real life were combined so that they could coexist through these many adventures, in a way that seamlessly brings together fact and fiction. It was such an appealing (and really recognizable on many levels, though obviously ridiculous at the same time) tale of best friends, both searching for a meaningful and love-filled life.

A downright delight of a read; absolutely binge-worthy. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator’s voice was spot on for the snarky tone of the writing, so if you are an audiobook person, I would recommend that. Though I read the first one as a physical copy and sped through it as well, so really the method of consumption seems to not matter – the entertainment value of these novels will shine through no matter what. If you ever need a literary pick-me-up, look no further!

4 thoughts on “My Plain Jane

  1. I so agree with your book! These are so much fun! I recently did a reread of My Lady Jane with the audiobook and really should do the same with this one. I just got my copy of My Calamity Jane and can’t wait to read it.

    And I don’t know if you’re already aware that they’re writing another trilogy together!

    Liked by 1 person

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