Jane Re has always felt like she didn't fit in. Half Korean and half American, she was shuttled off to her uncle in the States after her mother died and her grandfather refused her. And she's felt like she's paid for her mother's mistake ever since.
When her hopes of a career on Wall Street are dashed - at least temporarily - by a troubled economy, Jane applies for an au pair position with a Brooklyn family. Her uncle is aghast at the thought, but for Jane it finally means getting out from under his thumb. The family, a professor of women's issues and a high school english teacher, have a ten-year-old daughter they adopted from China. Their hope, initially, was to bring in a nanny with a Chinese background, but they hire Jane instead. It's a big change for Jane, bigger still when she starts to fall for her new boss!
Patricia Park's debut is a great play on Jane Eyre! A heavily "inspired by" tale, but one that deviates quite a bit and stands on its own two feet: Jane Re is no Jane Eyre, Ed Farley definitely no Edward Rochester, and fortunately her family isn't at all the kind of family Jane Eyre was saddled with. Not to mention the fact that the wife in this case isn't secreted away in some attic holding pen.
Did I mention Ed Farley is no Mr. Rochester? I have to say I did not love Jane for falling for him. And yet, the path she takes after realizing her "mistake" is fabulous! And I did so adore our heroine in spite of that one issue (she agonizes over it quite a bit as well, which is further endearing). Her family, too! Oh, I was so glad that Jane's family wasn't horrid and monstrous! It takes quite a while - and a trip around the world - before Jane herself starts to feel comfortable in her own skin and therefore comfortable with her family.
If you come to Jane Re hoping for or expecting a true-to-the-original adaptation, you might be sorely disappointed. But if you welcome a modern-day Jane facing culture clashes, the discomfort of not fitting in, and even 9/11 then you've come to the right read! Though this Jane faces some of the same issues as her namesake, Patricia Park adopts and adapts the classic well. The cultural aspects (both Korean and New York) alone make the book both unique and engaging, but wrapping it up in a Jane Eyre package was honestly quite brilliant in my opinion.
Definitely a highly recommended debut!
For more on Patricia Park and her work, including an excerpt of Re Jane, you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.
And now, thanks to the publisher I've got one copy to offer up as a giveaway! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, May 25. Open US only and no PO boxes, please.
a Rafflecopter giveaway