You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)
Or does she?
Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.
“This brings us to the real start of our story: northern England, 1834, and the aforementioned penniless, orphaned girl. And a writer. And a boy with a vendetta.
Let’s start with the girl.
Her name was Jane.”
If you loved the first book in The Lady Janies series, you will undoubtedly love the second, My Plain Jane. Like it’s predecessor, My Plain Jane follows a Jane in British history – this time in British literature – and seeks to give her a happy ending.
While My Plain Jane is definitely darker than My Lady Jane, it still has all the markings of this series: humour, ridiculousness, paranormal creatures, loveable characters, and top-notch writing.
Loosely following the plot of Jane Eyre and the life of its creator Charlotte Bronte, the novel takes some very divergent paths, which I enjoyed for the most part. Charlotte is a writer (duh) and dreams of leaving her boarding school behind to become a full-time writer. The key to that? Her teacher, Jane Eyre, who receives a mysterious visitor and an offer to work for the Royal Society of the Relocation of Wayward Spirits. But Jane wants nothing to do with the Society, and even goes so far as to accept a position as a governess to get away them. But Charlotte will do anything to work for the Society, and joins the mysterious visitor, Alexander Blackwood, in tracking Jane down … but Jane has her own reasons for not wanting the attention of a ghost-hunting society: she can see them, and her best friend is one.
I adored all of the characters, but I think my favourite was Helen, the best friend of Jane who just happens to be a ghost. Readers of Jane Eyre will remember Helen as the friend Jane makes at boarding school who passes away – but in this story, she still hangs around Jane. Helen is sweet and honourable, and her friendship with Jane is lovely and strong.
Helen shivered next to Jane. “Perhaps we should return to Charlotte. She probably misses us.”
“Us? Charlotte doesn’t know you exist.”
“Well, if she did, she would surely miss me.”
Charlotte is the biggest nerd in England and I want everything good to happen to her, forever. She is so headstrong and brave – pretty much as wonderful as I imagine the real Charlotte Bronte was. I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Jane, which surprised me so much because Jane Eyre is one of my favourite female characters in literature. In My Plain Jane, I found her a little droll and whinny, but, that being said, I loved her by the end of the book. Alexander was an absolute sweetheart – he’s quite shy and clever, but he really loves his job, and has a good heart. I want to hug him.
I really appreciate My Plain Jane, as the original Jane Eyre is one of my favourite books ever. Recognising quotes from the original novel made me squeal in delight, and seeing a new version of a beloved story was a pleasure. While this book is much darker than My Lady Jane, it’s still a very fun ride. Here’s hoping the trio of authors expand further beyond the stories of Britain’s Janes! I’d love to hear their retakes on the War of the Roses!