It’s an update to the class Jane Eyre set in Birmingham, AL where Jane is now a dog-walker in Thornfield Estates. It is there where she meets Eddie, who’s wife has recently drowned in a boating accident. Everything, however, is not how it seems as his wife, Bea, is not really dead but living in a safe room upstairs.
I really wanted to like this novel. It’s very premise promises two things I love in a good book–combining classic literature with the thriller genre that I’m obsessed with. But even on those two criteria it fell short to me.
First of all, if you’re going to write an updated version of a classic novel, you should at least stay true to the heart of the characters. Jane Eyre is a beloved character because despite being constantly beaten down in life (she’s orphaned, abused and humiliated, and treated like garbage most of her life), she still has a kind heart and a loving spirit.
The Jane in this novel, however, is just plain mean. She’s judgmental; she’s a thief; she has absolutely no business being the protagonist in anything resembling a love story–not that this novel is a love story. She longs to be like the rich people surrounding her, but she has absolutely nothing nice to say about them. Maybe the author was just trying to give the mild-tempered Jane of the original novel more bit, but she only succeeded in making her absolutely venomous. It would be like updating The Scarlet Letter and making Hester Prynne hateful and unapologetic.
The second reason I had trouble with this read is that I don’t think it’s a great thriller. A great thriller makes me worry for the main character and gasp at the various plot twists. The biggest twist in this novel was obvious from the moment Bea is introduced as a character, and because of that I was never actually worried about Jane.
In fairness to the author, this might be because I’d read the original novel and guessed that she would remain somewhat faithful to it. In my opinion, it would have been a far better thriller if she’d changed the names of all the characters and not implied that it was based on Jane Eyre.
All in all, if you haven’t read Jane Eyre, you might like this one. You might even find it thrilling, but if you did read the original, I wouldn’t risk reading this one. It will probably just make you mad.