Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Death of a Schoolgirl by Joanna Campbell Slan

I adore Jane Eyre. Adore it. So when I had the opportunity to read Joanna Campbell Slan's first in her new Jane Eyre Chronicles, I said of course I was interested! I happily spent my weekend ensconced in Slan's version of Jane's post Bronte world.

In the wake of the events at Thornfield, Jane and Edward have taken up residence at Ferndean. Edward is still recovering from his injuries in the fire and the couple has recently welcomed a new addition to their family -- son Ned. During all of this, Adele has been living in London, a student at Alderton House School for Girls. When a disturbing letter arrives from Adele containing pleas for help and a shocking threat, Jane decides she will travel to London to check on the girl. Edward is under doctor's orders to take it easy for the immediate future and plans to follow Jane at a later date, leaving his new wife to travel alone. But Jane is quite capable of taking care of herself and, in spite of a bad turn en route, she arrives in London ready to help Adele. Jane gets to the school just as the body of a dead student is being carried away. Though the dead girl was originally reported as having died of natural causes, Jane and others are sure there is something more sinister to blame. Coincidentally Alderton is one teacher down and Jane is mistaken as the replacement, which leaves her in the perfect position to investigate the death and the threats Adele has been receiving. But if the death is indeed murder, that means that Jane and Adele could both be in danger. 

I thought Slan did a fantastic job with Jane. She was, for the most part, a pretty convincing continuation of Bronte's heroine. My one complaint concerns the nice and neat wrap up at the end of the story. The build throughout the book was great but then the end -- specifically the unveiling of Jane's attacker -- felt like an unnecessary afterthought.

Overall, Death of a Schoolgirl was a fun period mystery and a welcome return to a cast of much-loved characters.


syeds said...

Dead cause of natural causes? what could be cause?

Teacher Complaint Letter

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Syeds, in those days, young people often died of typhus or consumption (TB) or other diseases that today rarely happen. A lot of illnesses we can remedy or treat went undetected or ignored.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Dear Bookseller Formerly Known as Grumpy--Glad you enjoyed the book!

Becky LeJeune said...

I enjoyed it very much, Joanna! I'll be looking forward to more of Jane's sleuthing!