Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Death of a Schoolgirl review

In case it has never been mentioned, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is probably my favorite piece of classical literature. I've read the book a couple of times, and have seen almost every single film adaptation. Jane Eyre is one of those pieces that is well-loved by many, as evidenced by the numerous spin-offs or "sequels" that other authors have written over the years that continue Jane's story

Note: Some spoilers included in case you have yet to read the book or see a film version.

Death of a Schoolgirl by Joanna Campbell Slan (Jane Eyre Chronicles #1) was one of those continuation stories that I picked up recently. I saw the original ad for it in a book club flyer and from the brief description, decided to grab a copy.

Part sequel, part mystery, the book picks up about a year after the conclusion of Jane Eyre. Jane has settled into a comfortable life with Mr. Rochester and their young son. A letter from Adele requesting help soon turns things upside down and Jane rushes to her aid. By the time Jane arrives at the boarding school where Adele is, a dead body has also turned up and it quickly becomes apparent that someone in the school might be the murderer.

Taking up the position as governess once again, Jane enters the school under this guise to find out who is responsible, and just what secrets might be lurking around the girl's mysterious death.

I enjoyed this book as a quick, light read. It's nothing too heavy, and it certainly isn't an "up until 2 am" page-turner, but it's a great alternative to the continuation of Jane's life. Slan does a great job with her writing style, mimicking the language and structure of the original Bronte writer. The story is well put together, and while it does lack the element of suspense, still makes for a great read on a rainy day with a cup of tea.

The only thing that kept throwing me for a loop was the time setting. There is debate on when the original Jane Eyre took place, ranging from the 1820s through 1840s. In my mind, I have always placed it during the 1840s. Slan however, places her story in the 1820s. All the historical references she makes match this setting decision, but then I kept having to push my mind to match it as well. This is more a personal preference than anything though.

 Overall - 3.5 out of 5

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