Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: Death of a Schoolgirl (the Jane Eyre Chronicles) + a Giveaway!

Death of a Schoolgirl
The Jane Eyre Chronicles
by Joanna Campbell Slan

Plot Summary:

In her classic tale, Charlotte Brontë introduced readers to the strong willed and intelligent Jane Eyre. Picking up where Brontë left off, the year is now 1851, and Jane’s life has finally settled into a comfortable pattern. She and her beloved Edward Rochester have married, and have an infant son. But Jane soon finds herself in the midst of new challenges and threats to those she loves…

Jane can’t help but fret when a letter arrives from Adèle Varens—Rochester’s ward and Jane’s former pupil, currently at boarding school—warning that the girl’s life is in jeopardy. Although it means leaving her young son and invalid husband, and despite never having been to a city of any size, Jane feels strongly compelled to go to London to ensure Adèle’s safety.

But almost from the beginning, her travels don’t go as planned—she is knocked about and robbed, and no one believes that the plain, unassuming Jane could indeed be the wife of a gentleman. Even when she arrives at the school, the headmistress takes her for an errant new teacher, and berates her for her late arrival. Most shocking to Jane is the discovery that Adèle’s roommate has recently passed away under very suspicious circumstances, yet no one at the school seems concerned. Taking advantage of the misunderstanding, she decides to pose as the missing instructor—and soon uncovers several unsavory secrets, which may very well make her the killer’s next target…

Expectations: 

I had blogged a little before about this book - how I had hoped it would be an exciting mystery, and showing a new side of Jane because now she has to go undercover and engage in a little subterfuge.  Most importantly I had hoped the author would capture the 'voice' of Jane and Rochester and the nature of their post-married life.  So my expectations were really hopes that I would enjoy this book.

Review:

I am so happy I was not disappointed by this book!! I loved the story and the fact that the author took great pains to capture Charlotte Brontë's writing style, making this book feel like a continuation of Jane's "autobiographies" as she continues to tell the story of her life.  Having read a couple of books with the set-up of Jane writing a "what-happened-next" story, I believe Joanna Campbell Slan has done the best job in approximating Charlotte Brontë's flowery prose and capturing the sensible, intelligent voice of Jane.

I think it is important to comment especially on the characterization of Jane and Rochester and how well their married life is captured- Jane is recreated almost perfectly, with all of her confidence and compassion, and she deals with the events calmly with "resources never suspected". I liked how the author has matured Jane as well, since she is married and a mother, with more responsibilities.  Mr. Rochester has matured too, accepting his disabilities and willing to follow doctor's orders carefully to restore his eyesight.  Even if it means letting Jane travel to London without him.  I think the tenor of their married life in this book is perfect, and as loving and romantic as the original novel.

The story was a great character-driven mystery, with a wide choice of possible suspects, and subtle clues that were very hard to pick up on.  I was really kept in the dark until the very end, where even when the matter seemed resolved, there was another twist.  Adele was turned into some great comic relief, and I loved how forthright she was, despite everyone disparaging her French nature.  This novel also incorporates some history and social discussions pertinent to Jane and Rochester's status and the time period the novel is set in.   It is a subtle shift in tone from the original novel where the focus is on Jane's development and her struggles, to this new story that creates a Jane, who, having found herself, can now help others. There are wider responsibilities that Jane and Rochester face as a part of society and also landowners and Jane also has to face the ugly rumors circulated by the Ingrams about Rochester and their relationship.  (I can't wait until Rochester hears about it!)  All this adds more dimension to the story - setting up more themes to be explored in later installments of the Jane Eyre Chronicles. (Next one is reportedly called Death of a Dowager... Dowager Lady Ingram??? <-- pure speculation on my part!)

There is plenty of explanation and back story for readers who haven't read the original novel, or who have not read it in awhile, so it is easy to sit back and enjoy this layered and well-executed historical mystery.  And fans of the original novel will appreciate the intelligence and care the author has taken to maintain the spirit of Jane.

review copy kindly provided by the publisher - Berkeley Trade
The release date for "Death of a Schoolgirl" is August 7, 2012


Giveaway for "Death of a Schoolgirl"

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The winner will be notified by email on August 7, 2012.  If there is no reply to the email within 72 hours, another winner will be chosen. Many thanks to the publisher for allowing me to host this giveaway!

Come back on August 6th, for my interview with the author Joanna Campbell Slan on her book and on Jane Eyre!


Second book of ten in the 2012 Books of Eyre Reading Challenge

15 comments:

  1. Great giveaway! This books sounds awesome! :D Thanks for sharing it!

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    1. It is really good! I hope you get a chance to check it out soon! Thank you for commenting!

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  2. Great giveaway! Thanks!

    I also have a giveaway going on my blog. I don't have many followers yet, so the odds are in everyone's favor ;-)

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    1. I'm happy to host this opportunity! :) I have entered your giveaway as well- really nice of you to offer it! Thanks for commenting!

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  3. Thanks for the giveaway and review. Jane Eyre is my favorite book of all time, so I'm always excited to read related attempts by other Jane Eyre lovers.

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    1. I'm so glad to hear from another JE fan! I love to read JE related novels as well! Thanks for commenting!

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  4. I was wanting to read this but this review has pushed it up WAY higher on my que..it sounds awesome!

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    1. I think it really is one of the best of the Janian related novels! I hope you like it as much as I did! :D

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  5. Oh wow, Charlene, you are very awesome! This is another great review of another Jane Eyre -related book that I wasn't aware of. I'm very happy to add it to my list. And thanks for the giveaway! I'll be looking out for that interview!

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    1. This is a good one, so I hope you enjoy it if you get a chance to read! Thanks for commenting! :)

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  6. A continuation to Jane Eyre. wow dat sounds awesome! great review it sounds like you enjoyed it! truly sounds like an interesting read!
    Follower!

    http://thecrossbreeds.blogspot.com/

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  7. Although I'm too late for the giveaway, have to say I love the review. I also like the cover of the book! Looks like a nice read!
    This is an amazing blog! I'm a new follower ;)

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    1. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy if you get a chance to read it!

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  8. This book sounds super entertaining! I love everything about it! Adding it to the list. Great review.

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    1. I hope you get to read it soon! It really is a great mystery, besides the Jane Eyre aspect. (which is also great!) :)

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