I’m always a little skeptical when a new book is published that is meant to be a retelling of a classic. Sometimes it works. Most of the time, it doesn’t. So when I heard that Rachel Hawkins wrote a modern retelling of Jane Eyre , which is my favorite classic novel, I was both intrigued and horribly nervous. Could this hold up to the novel I’ve read multiple times and care deeply about? Would it hold up to Wide Sargasso Sea, which is another favorite?
Jane is a broke dog walker in Thornfield Estates- a rich gated community in Birmingham, Alabama full of shiny things and women who have way too much time on their hands. A chance run-in with recently-widowed Eddie Rochester changes Jane’s luck for the better, and she’s not about to let go of the opportunity to get everything she’s ever wanted in life. But will Jane ever be able to get out of Bea Rochester’s shadow? Can Jane win Eddie’s heart before the past come backs to haunt them both?
I have to say, I was impressed by this one. The Wife Upstairs takes the classic story of Jane and completely flips the script. Unlike it’s classic counterpart, the women run this novel, and they’re not the weak, innocent women you’re expecting. Every single character is holding onto dark secrets and is willing do whatever it takes to come out on top. Jane is an extremely unlikable character, one who isn’t above stealing and manipulating to survive. Bea is cunning and evil. And Eddie is a character that you can’t help but feel conflicted about.
The only thing I have a problem with is that this book is being touted by some as a gothic thriller. I disagree with this label completely. This book doesn’t contain any of the gothic elements one would find in Jane Eyre. This is 100% a psychological thriller.
You cannot pick up this novel expecting it to be just like the original. If you do, you might be disappointed. But on its own, this is a re-imagining worthy of your time.
* I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to the author and the publisher, St Martin’s Press.*
Categories: Book Reviews
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