BookPage Teen Top Pick, July 2018
Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows, the team of young adult authors otherwise known as the Lady Janies, penned the 2016 New York Times bestseller My Lady Jane—inspired (more or less) by hapless historical figure Lady Jane Grey, who ruled as queen of England for only nine days. Now, they’ve whipped up another ghostly journey into the past in the latest installment of their Jane-centric series, but their new inspiration is a different famous Jane. This time, the eponymous protagonist is none other than Charlotte Brontë’s indomitable heroine Jane Eyre.
With this crew of authors at the helm, don’t expect a simple retelling. In the opening pages of My Plain Jane, we meet not only Jane but also her friend Charlotte Brontë, both of whom are students at the infamous Lowood School. As a young aspiring author, Charlotte is working on her “Very-First-Ever-Attempt-at-a-Novel” and thinks Jane will make the perfect heroine in her story.
Jane has the ability to see ghosts, which convinces the very attractive supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood that she would make a fine addition to his Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits. But Jane rejects the job offer and instead sets off to fulfill her destiny by securing the governess position at Rochester’s Thornfield Hall. Off she trots with a ghostly Helen Burns at her side, who proves to be a fantastic comic foil for Jane.
Anyone who loves Brontë’s classic novel will find this supernatural, romantic sendup to be clever and hilarious. At the end of the story, Charlotte reads from her future novel, and Jane approves: “Your readers will eat it up.” Charlotte nervously admits that she doesn’t have any readers yet, but it’s a sure bet she’ll have a lot more after readers finish My Plain Jane.