Orphaned at the age of six, Jane Williams has grown up in a series of foster homes, learning to survive in the shadows of life. Through hard work and determination, she manages to win a scholarship to the exclusive Birch Grove Academy. There, for the first time, Jane finds herself accepted by a group of friends. She even starts tutoring the headmistress’s gorgeous son, Lucien. Things seem too good to be true.
The more she learns about Birch Grove’s recent past, the more Jane comes to suspect that there is something sinister going on. Why did the wife of a popular teacher kill herself? What happened to the former scholarship student, whose place Jane took? Why does Lucien’s brother, Jack, seem to dislike her so much?
As Jane begins to piece together the answers to the puzzle, she must find out why she was brought to Birch Grove—and what she would risk to stay there….This is an imagined retelling of Jane Eyre, of sorts. In some ways many of the characters are familiar, situations the same, but quite modern and mixed with some paranormal. We have Jane, our heroine who is stuck on being plain but finds reasons to made her life better by sheer will and tenacity. She wants nothing more than to survive, but finds that her heart really wants more to life than mere survival. You could even see a bit of Rochester in Jack. You also have a fire and a crazy woman to deal with, but the resemblance ends there. Oh you can also see the other characters as amalgamations of various characters but I find the secondary characters to be a bit more flushed out than the original tale. Not criticizing the original, but there is that difference.
There are moments in this tale that you may hate. There are moments you are yelling at her to wise up and see what is really going on. However, it would not work any other way. Jane may be mature intelligently, but her emotional growth was severely stunted by past pain and abuse. She had to learn in increments and she does so. You'll be happy to know that by the end she does get it and I feel her emotional growth read pretty realistic. In fact this quote reveals who Jane is when she arrives at Birch Grove:
By the time I'd left Helmsdale City Central High, I'd transformed myself from an inarticulate loser foster kid to a college-track student who aced every test. I still sat in Hosea's old place in the cafeteria, but the others didn't ignore me anymore.
Now when people met me, they saw an unassuming, hardworking, well-spoken girl. But inside I was still shrieking with rage for everything that I'd had to do merely to have the crumbs that the others carelessly dropped.
I'd pressed down my fury until it metamorphosed, as soft messy carbonate does, into a diamond so hard it can cut through steel and with such clarity that I could use it as a lens to see the world as it truly was, cruel and capricious.
It was rage that got me to Birch Grove Academy for Girls and out of Hellsdale. I nestled into my bed, knowing that rage would help me survive here, too. (p. 32)
I do want to say something about Jack. Our Rochester. He really reminds me of Pan. The mythical Pan of the woods. He even latches on to that first accusation Rochester gave Jane of being a fae. I found that interesting and even more so when the author expounded on that idea. Oh I wanted to know more about that!
I give this book 5 stars. I don't think that everyone will love it as much as I did, but I do think you'll enjoy this re-imagining. It's a journey about growth and having the veil lifted from your eyes and seeing situations and people in a new light. Oh there really is so much more I'd love to say about this book but won't because I'm in danger of spoiling it for you. So if you are in the mood for a dark tale, give this one a try.
I received this book from TorTeen and no compensation for my review was given.