Title: My Plain Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
Series: The Lady Janies, #2
Release Date: June 26th 2018
You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)
Or does she?
Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.
My Thoughts On…
Jane can see ghosts, and there are plenty at Lowood school. She’s always tried to keep her secret, but when she hears the Society responsible for the relocation of ghosts is dealing with a spirit near her school she goes to see them at work, and the Society realise there’s another Seer in the area. Alexander Blackwood offers Jane a job but she wants nothing to do with them and instead accepts a position of governess at Thornfield Hall.
Before reading My Plain Jane I hadn’t read Jane Eyre, and other than the characters names I had no clue where this book would go. My Plain Jane is told from three POVs; Jane Eyre herself, her friend from Lowood school Charlotte Brontë, and Alexander Blackwood who works for the Society and is hoping to recruit Jane. Although Jane is the titular character I was much more interested in Charlotte and Alexander’s POV scene, and in their side of this story.
Hoping for an adventure, for more from her life than dying too early of the so-called ‘graveyard disease’ which took her two eldest sisters, Charlotte offers her assistance to Alexander. She may not be able to see spirits but she hopes she can convince Jane to take the job the Society offering. However Jane has already met and fallen madly in love with the brooding Mr. Rochester; a man with more mood swings than a pendulum, and with a dark and terrible secret.
My Plain Jane was a book I had high hopes for, I really enjoyed My Lady Jane and was so excited to see Hand, Ashton and Meadows were teaming up to release two more Jane stories, but it wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped it would be. It wasn’t so much the plot, which was just as fun and ridiculous as it was in My Lady Jane, but I did think this book was missing some of the trademark humour that had me laughing on my train journey into work while reading the first book.
Jane is alone at Lowood school except for Charlotte and except for Helen, her closest friend who died a few years back. Jane is fiercely defensive of those she loves and refuses to even entertain the Society’s offer in part because Helen is a ghost and Jane fears they’ll relocate her. When she leaves for Thornfield Hall and falls for Mr. Rochester that defensiveness leads her to become blind to his (many) faults and oddities.
The relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester was one of things that bugged me in this book. It was very much an insta-love relationship, and while I get that maybe that was how things were in the original Jane Eyre book and that the authors were poking-fun at the trope more than they were taking it seriously, Jane’s utter devotion to this man made her character seem naïve. Even when Helen pointed out some of the things he did which were suspect Jane discounted them.
Charlotte wants to write and she uses everything around her as inspiration, but nothing exciting happens at Lowood so Jane becomes the perfect subject for her book. Charlotte wants more from her life than the future she sees if she stays at Lowood, and her tenacity keeps her at Alexander’s side even though he keeps trying to send her home. Charlotte may not be able to see spirits but she has a lot to offer, and she knows Jane.
Alexander is dedicated to the Society, he’s given his life to his work and he believes in what the they’re doing even though they no longer have the support of the King. The only thing Alexander believes in more than the Society is his quest to avenge his father’s murder. He doesn’t seem to have much patience for Charlotte or Branwell, his hapless assistant, at first but they have talents Alexander don’t which proves helpful as he tries to sneak into Thornfield Hall.
While I think the individual characters were well written for the most part I do wish the relationships had been better developed. The friendship between Jane and Helen was great but at times I felt the friendship between Jane and Charlotte was lacking. The relationship between Charlotte and Alexander was one I enjoyed reading much more, but even though it was better developed than the relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester but it was still missing something that made Jane and G’s relationship in My Lady Jane so real and so fun to read.
What I love about this series is how the authors add a little magic into their historical reimagining’s for Jane Grey and Jane Eyre. In My Plain Jane in the time of King George III ghosts are widely known to be real and the King put together the Society to re-locate more troublesome spirits. I’m not sure if My Lady Jane and My Plain Jane are two standalone stories or two connected stories, given Jane and G make a small cameo in this book I’d have thought they were two connecting stories but then that makes me question what happen to the magic in the first book in this book (it’s very possible I’m going too far into this, but it’s a question that came to mind a few times while reading).
In the end My Plain Jane just didn’t live up to my expectations, which is a real shame because this was one of my anticipated releases for this year. I really enjoyed My Lady Jane and compared to that book I felt too much was lacking in My Plain Jane; the humour wasn’t quite there, and neither was the relationship development. Hopefully the last book in the Jane trilogy will be better again.
What did you think of My Plain Jane? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.