Eight YA-ish Books Inspired by Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre was first published on October 16, 1847—171 years ago today, if I’m doing my math right.
Regardless of our own personal relationships with it—as well as our opinion and understanding of its characters, their voices and choices and histories—and how any and all of those perspectives may have shifted and morphed over the years, it would be impossible to deny its influence.
So let’s look at a few recent-ish books based on Jane Eyre: some that I’ve read, some that I’m looking forward to reading. NOTE: This is a predominantly white list—if you know of some retellings by authors of color, let me know!
Books that I’ve read (these are MUCH less recent than the others; clearly I have some reading to do!):
Jane, by April Lindner:
But, after her parents are killed in a car accident and she's left penniless, she's forced to drop out of her freshman year at Sarah Lawrence and get a job. And finally, her serious nature works in her favor: because Discriminating Nannies, Inc. is looking for someone disinterested in celebrity gossip to place at Thornfield Park, the estate of rock legend Nico Rathburn.
Texts from Jane Eyre: and Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters, by Daniel Mallory Ortberg: I’ve never actually written at length about this one, but every single time I shelve it at the library, I can’t resist reading a few pages, and it still makes me laugh just as much as it did way back when it first came out.
The most immediately obvious differences lay in the worlds in which the books are set: A Breath of Eyre and Dark Companion are both set in our world, in our own time, while Ironskin takes place in a steampunk-ish Victorian era England that is rebuilding after a devastating war with the Fey. Different worlds make for different heroines, so while the protagonists in the other two books are somewhat predictable Everygirl types, Ironskin’s Jane Eliot was wounded—and badly scarred—in the war, and wears an iron mask that both hides her face from view and protects people from the fey-curse that she bears. She’s fierce, determined, and angry—the curse is a rage-curse, after all—and while she doubts that she’ll ever truly have a place in the world, she longs for one desperately. (full post here)
Books that I’m looking forward to reading:
My Plain Jane, by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows: My Lady Jane, the previous book by this trio of authors, was really not a great fit for me—then again, humor is so subjective, and maybe I was crabby that day?—but I’d still like to take this one for a spin. Because, you know: JANE EYRE! AND CHARLOTTE BRONTË! AS GHOST HUNTERS!
Unearthly Things, by Michelle Gagnon: Jane Eyre! IN SAN FRANCISCO!
Brightly Burning, by Alexa Donne: Jane Eyre! IN SPACEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
And, no, I still haven’t read Wide Sargasso Sea, even though it’s still sitting right there on my bookshelf. LE SIGH.