As a woman raised and educated in America, I have read a good chunk of the Brontë/Austen collection of literature – I dunno, I just never really cared for it. It always carried the scent of English class, which is odd, because I liked my English classes. And I really liked the teacher I had for 10th grade English class, which focused on British literature where we read stuff like Wuthering Heights, et al. But these and Dickens always made me just say “eh” which is why I feel within my rights to classify My Plain Jane as “not my wheelhouse”. It’s a twist on a retelling of Jane Eyre, but more in the style of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Featuring Charlotte Brontë as a character herself.
Also, the book emphasizes over and over again how plain and unexceptional-looking Jane Eyre is, so why did they pick such a patently beautiful woman for the cover?
Anyway, it’s the rough plot of Jane Eyre but with ghosts and hauntings and period-era Winchester brothers who arrive to de-haunt things. Jane, a teacher at Lowood school(?) sees dead people, and Seers are very valuable for the special Society that deals with ridding places of unwanted ghosts. It’s easier to exorcise when you can see what you’re exorcising. But Jane doesn’t want to admit that she sees dead people, so she packs off to become a governess and shenanigans ensue.
The book aspires to be tongue-in-cheek but never quite achieves it. It’s like Jess Day in the early episodes of New Girl, trying so g-d hard to be twee it hurts your teeth. There are all kinds of asides and reminders from the authors throughout the book and I really could have done without … any of them. When Charlotte Brontë is determined to follow the ghost hunters despite being asked not to, they full out break out into a brand new paragraph all on it’s own:
Nevertheless, she persisted.
And later the newly-possessed king is described as boasting about how his coronation was the most well-attended coronation in history and you guys starting to see what I mean? There are ways of doing this well, and this book is not an example.
Bingo Square: Not My Wheelhouse