Jane by April Lindner

I mentioned in my review of Jane Eyre that I read it because I was curious about Jane by April Lindner. Yay, so glad I decided to read the original first before this one. I feel like it adds more depth to my understanding of the story. I’ve been looking forward to reading Jane ever since the triumvirate of my favorite bloggers (namely Angie, Holly and Michelle) gave such glowing reviews of it. Also, would you look at that cover? Isn’t it lovely? More reason to pick up the book to see if the inside is just as beautiful as the outside.

Here’s the summary from April Lindner’s website:

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there’s a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane’s much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love? An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.

I love retellings. I like seeing how authors make the story their own while using another story as the foundation. Jane is a faithful retelling – all of the major events in Jane Eyre were there but April Lindner found ways to insert some new scenes to make the story more believable (loved the pool scene). What I really liked about this book is it found a way to seamlessly modernize a classic story while keeping the essence of the original. Jane is still very much a plain Jane – practical, studious and hard-working. She’s a no non-sense kind of girl who has no interest in celebrities of any kind. This makes her the perfect nanny for the reclusive rock star Nico Rathburn’s young daughter. Mr. Rochester as a rock star is such an original and very fitting concept. It goes well with his past as a wild, young man, determined to cruise through the highs of life. Now that he’s a little older, he’s learned from his mistakes and is trying to live a much simpler life. I think it’s great that Nico’s age doesn’t reduce his overall appeal because he’s still totally hot – hello rich, brooding, reformed, rock star! What’s not to like?

My favorite line in the novel is probably this: “Jane, you get me. And I think I get you.” This one line perfectly describes the romance between Jane and Nico. In spite of the age gap and all of their differences, the only thing that matters is that they understand each other and they’re both comfortable in each other’s presence right from the start. Their story captivated me. Oh and it’s funny that in this novel, their first meeting can be considered a meet cute. Even knowing what will happen in general, I was excited to move along, trying to think of how the story will develop in this new setting. I can see old fans of Jane Eyre falling in love with this charming retelling. What’s good about it is I think it will also attract new fans because you don’t have to read the original to recognize how well-written this debut novel is. Can’t wait to see what April Lindner writes next.

Other reviews: (manually generated)
Book Harbinger
See Michelle Read
Good Books and Good Wine
Steph Su Reads

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

I have mentioned Daughter of the Forest several times here on my blog because I’ve heard so many good things about it. Book blogger and Goodreads friends have told me that this novel is one of their favorites. It’s a retelling of the fairy tale The Six Swans and that makes it more interesting for me. This was my Want Books? pick just last week and luckily, Fully Booked had one copy left. Sure it was in their Cebu branch and they had to send it by courier to Manila but what the heck, at least I got a copy. 🙂

Here’s the summary from the Macmillan website and is also the summary at the back of the book:

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha’s joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all…

Wow, just wow. I was blown away by this book. I mean I had high expectations because of what everyone said but I was still pleasantly surprised at how lovely it was. A word of caution – this was not an easy book to read. I know that I mostly read YA novels so I just wanted to get this out there. It was hard to read because of everything that Sorcha had to go through. The writing is so vivid and imaginative that your heart will break whenever there’s pain and suffering for the main character, which happens several times over. But this book is well worth the trouble. There were times when I had to stop reading because my heart went out to Sorcha, she suffers when she deserves to be happy. The only other Marillier that I’ve read was Wildwood Dancing and though I enjoyed reading that, I wasn’t impressed. After reading Daughter of the Forest, I can now join the ranks of Marillier fans out there.

I enjoy reading fairy tale retellings because it’s always interesting to see where the author will take the story using the fairy tale as the backbone. This one was no different. Using the gist of The Six Swans fairy tale, Ms. Marillier made the story come alive with a wonderful blend of historical fiction and Celtic mythology. Sorcha is the seventh child of Lord Colum, a seventh son himself and Lord of Sevenwaters. As the only girl, Sorcha is well-protected and beloved by her brothers. I loved how distinct each brother’s personality is and how close-knit they are in spite of their differences. They were all tied together by their bond as siblings. Daughter of the Forest is a wonderful story about love – love for your family, love for the land where you came from and true love, which is elusive and comes only once in a person’s life. That speech towards the end of the book is a winner. I’d love to post it here but I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read the book. For those who’ve read it, does “You are bone of my bone, and breath of my breath.” ring a bell?

I just got copies of Son of Shadows and Child of the Prophecy from Fully Booked yesterday. Son of the Shadows occurs a generation after Daughter of the Forest and I’ve been assured by Angie and Holly that it’s just as good as the first one in the series. I’m excited to read it!