Review of Eve Mont's A Breath of Eyre
Disclaimer: Ignore the feminine cover and read it regardless of the targeted readership!
Of course, I started reading the book with certain preconceived notions, since it was a young-adult novel. Lately,I have been a bit disillusioned with young-adult fiction, ever since the Twilight love-triangle become the predominant romance formula that nearly all young adult books afterwords with a supernatural bent emulated.
This book really caught me off-guard because of the lack of a love-triangle or really any superficial romantic elements. Rather than being replete of those generic YA trappings, this book has an awesome multifaceted plot that achieves the impossible: it takes a well-adored classic and parallels the events and the emotions of that novel seamlessly with that of a newly developed plot that takes place in reality. The classic happens to be one of my favorite Gothic novels that featured a brooding Byronic hero (the use of the word "hero" can be contested) and an extremely introverted, strong-minded heroine. The story has so many classical features and complex characters that some of the characters have been open to different interpretations.
For example, some filmmaker, who've done Jane Eyre film adaptations make Mr. Rochester too ruggedly handsome and his past sins become sexually-appealing in some modern adaptations (one of them became a deservedly forgotten James Bond). I love how this book features far more scrutiny of the character of Mr. Rochester because I think his defects are often too overlooked in modern adaptations.
Thus far, I have seen three different Jane Eyre film adaptations in my life, and it was neat to read a story that involves a girl named Emma that has the same disposition of loving books to the point of wanting to escape fully into them. Her external world is fraught with different chaotic elements, such as a new boarding-school that is populated by girls that she has trouble befriending because they were able to get into the boarding school without any scholarships. Being endowed with certain financial benefits brands her as someone with a family that lacks the affluence of other families. This a natural part of the teen environment, where everyone is trying to adjust to a newer sense of the world that is quickly losing the idealized elements of childhood (Madeleine L'Engle is the master of these types of YA novels).Therefore, it is no surprise that Emma feels the overwhelming desire to escape haplessly into the world of Jane Eyre, and eventually both stories become more finely intertwined later in the story.
When reading Jane Eyre, it is easy to become hopelessly enamored with the romantic elements of the story that are only a superficial layer. For many books that try to pay homage to classics, it is easy for them to become weighed down in nostalgic gushing. Both stories, the realistic story set in Emma's present and the adjacent Jane Eyre story, have the pretense of being shallow at the beginning,but Eve M. fantastically pulls the rug out from under your feet and deftly unravels an emotionally intense story that will have you reaching back for the rug, Nothing in the plot felt contrived or false, even though I would have loved to read more about Michelle's aunt. Then again, that might be something that Eve M. might be saving for the next installment
Even the prose itself was magnificent, there was no instance of purple-prose. I was mesmerized throughout the whole novel, More importantly, I uncomfortably faced some of my worst insecurities while reading A Breath of Eyre because good novels are a mirror of our own psyche. This book is not some saccharine celebration of all the sensual elements of Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre's romantic relationship (their relationship was fraught with hardship, like any relationship). Eve Mont plumbs the depths of both these characters, while simultaneously probing Emma's own psyche. The psychological layering of both novels were so seamless in this novel because Eve Mont did more than just rewrite the surface-story of Jane Eyre into Emma's own reality. Instead, she shows a great grasp of the emotional underpinnings of the novel, and astonishingly allowed me to see both Jane Eyre and even myself in a new light.
If you're still looking for a Christmas gift, I wholeheartedly recommend this fantastic novel because it is both emotionally powerful and effective in giving you new insight into the complexity of Jane Eyre. This novel is the new standard for classical novels being reimagined for a modern audience!
For More Information about this book and others written by Eve Mont, Check out her author Website or Twitter