Saturday, August 18, 2012

Book Review: A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont

Title: A Breath of Eyre 
Author: Eve Marie Mont
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Genre: YA (Er...contemporary? Fantasy? Fanfiction? Yeah, let's go with fanfiction.)
Why I read it/how I found it: 2012 Debut Author Challenge

Emma Townsend has always believed in stories—the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates in her head. Perhaps it’s because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn’t come close to filling the void left by her mother’s death. And her only romantic prospect—apart from a crush on her English teacher—is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma’s confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre…

Reading of Jane’s isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane’s body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she’s never known—and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane’s story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own.

I love Jane Eyre. It's one of my favorite books. Which is why this book was so disappointing for me.

Many sections of the book are plopped straight out of Jane Eyre. Conversations, actions and such. Which, I've read alternative POVs from famous books/plays before with the same dialogue, however this book did not either A.) Add more scenes/dialogue than the original or B.) Give new perspective to the scene. Whenever she was in Jane's world, I found it boring and also, really unnecessary to the plot of her own issues in her life. It did drift away from the original novel toward the end of her journeys as Jane, but then it was just stupid.

Rochester's blamed for everything. Bertha's craziness, her situation, all of it. Despite the fact that Charlotte Bronte says insanity runs in Bertha's family, that Rochester stayed with Bertha for four years trying to help her, and also that asylums in the nineteenth century were horrible. Absolutely horrible. Yet Emma thought it would have been a good idea to send Bertha to doctors and nurses. Honestly, for someone so smart she should know a bit about history and the fact that insane people were treated horribly back then. Rochester did Bertha a kindness keeping her in Thornfield. Was he perfect? No, but judging him on our standards today is unfair.

Bertha's insanity is reduced to a depression, rather than the homicidal insanity it truly was. I shook my head the whole time Emma decided she needed to "save Bertha" rather than forgive Rochester.

And what killed me the most--Emma claimed Jane was not a feminist. Because she stuck with Rochester rather than Bertha. I can't even muster the energy to write down how completely wrong and stupid that reading is. Flat-out stupid to call one of the most progressive feminist novels for its time anti-feminist.

Emma's story outside of Jane's world is all right. Fairly stereotypical with mean girls and boys and such. I felt that a lot of things that should be more serious and drawn out in Emma's life were cut short because of the pages spent as Jane.

Other information: This is the first book in a trilogy, the other two A Touch of Scarlett (taken from The Scarlet Letter) and A Phantom Enchantment (taken from The Phantom of the Opera). Eve Marie Mont's website is here.

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