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Source: ARC from publisher
Published: April 2012
Kensington Publishing Corp.
From Goodreads: Emma Townsend has always believed in stories—the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates in her head. Perhaps it’s because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn't come close to filling the void left by her mother’s death. And her only romantic prospect—apart from a crush on her English teacher—is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma’s confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre…
Reading of Jane’s isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane’s body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she’s never known—and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane’s story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own…
First off, many thanks to Kensington for providing me with a review copy of this book. It's one I've wanted to read since I heard about it, so I was thrilled at the chance to get my hands on it early.
I'm a HUGE fan of Jane Eyre. It's one of my all-time favorite books. I was excited to read a new take on it. Guess what? It went far beyond everything I'd hoped for.
I was expecting a retelling, I guess. I thought that it would be kind of like every other retelling-same story with a few new elements.
But it wasn't.
It gave me the chance to view Jane Eyre in a whole new light.
It let me see what might have happened had Jane had a stronger voice, if she had been able to keep her resolution to stay away from Mr. Rochester after the incident with Bertha. It let me see Bertha in a whole new light, and I think that was what I appreciated/loved the most.
Every time I've read Jane Eyre, I've kind of glossed over Bertha as the insane first wife of Mr. Rochester. I never once stopped to consider WHY she was the way she was, who might have driven her to complete madness, and what her dreams might have been. After reading A Breath of Eyre, I'd like to go back and reexamine my feelings on Bertha. I'd like to give her a chance.
I loved that the overall moral of the story wasn't win at all costs or shame the mean girls into being nice (though I loved that one time when Elise got hers. Man, I didn't like that girl.). The point was really to find your own voice, to be able to be heard above the clatter. When Emma finally found her voice, I rejoiced.
Mont's writing is fantastic. I didn't feel like she ever got bogged down in the minutia, nor did she resort to cliches. She just wrote solid, beautiful words.
Yes, it was a YA romance. Yes, it had elements of YA that can drive people nuts. NO, it did not drive me nuts at any point. No, I did not find it mundane. I found it powerful, moving, and inspirational. There's a message of forgiveness, both through Emma's experiences as Jane and her interactions with Gray. I love that she could take what she learned as Jane and apply it to her life.
Here's an example of one of my favorite lines:
"The sign of a true woman isn't the ability to recite French poetry or play the pianoforte or cook Chateaubriand. The sign of a true woman is learning to listen to her own voice even when society does its best to drown it out." (p. 300)
Isn't that WONDERFUL?!
This is one of my new favorites, and I will absolutely be getting copies of the next two books. I'm giving this a 'Pick Me' for being fabulous!
Sexuality: Mild (hinted at)
Mature themes: death, suicide, favoritism, class conflict
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