My Plain Jane
By Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Published June 26, 2018 by Harper Teen
I loved My Plain Jane so much. I had high hopes going in, given that that I really liked the first book in the series, My Lady Jane, but this one definitely lived up to my high expectations.
This is not a straightforward retelling of Jane Eyre, so if you’re a purist, this may not be the book for you. It takes some of the weird/problematic aspects of the original story (the age difference, Mr. Rochester’s super odd behavior) and looks at them in a different way.
The story begins at the awful Lowood School, where both Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte are pupils. They’re close friends, although Jane is keeping a big secret from her friend: she sees ghosts. The head of the school, the cruel Mr. Brocklehurst, is recently deceased, and his ghost is haunting the school, so they call in the Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits to help with their problem. Agent Alexander Blackwood arrives and send the entire school (who have rarely seen any males besides Mr. Brocklehurst) into a tizzy. When Alexander learns that Jane can see ghosts, he tries to recruit her for the society, but it’s Charlotte who really wants to join. Hijinks ensue, and the trio all end up at Thornfield Hall.
This book is so, so funny. The combination of a classic gothic tale and snarky ghosts is winning one, and I definitely laugh-snorted multiple times. It has the same absurdist tone as the first book in the series, My Lady Jane, but it’s slightly different in that it’s mostly fictional characters, with a few real people.
The book has three narrators (Jane, Charlotte, and Alexander), and the chapters switch points of view. The three characters have very different voices. Charlotte was my favorite. She’s had a rough life, but she’s tough and determined to make her way in the world. She wants to be a writer, and she thinks that joining the Society will give her fodder for her stories. Of course, there’s the small matter of her not being able to see ghosts, but she doesn’t let that thwart her ambitions.
My Plain Jane is a hilarious and entertaining book, and it’s a perfect summer read.