1/12/2010. Contributed by Sue Davies
Jane Slayre by Charlotte Bronte & Sherrie Browning Erwin. pub: Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster. 396 page small enlarged paperback. Price: GBP 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-85720-003-7.
check out website: www.simonandschuster.co.uk
Once upon a time there was a girl who had a great destiny. She lived in the dark but would be raised up to the light. She was afraid but she would become the bravest of the brave. She was the Chosen One and her name was…Jane.
In the post-Buffy world we are more than used to the subversion of the dumb blonde who turns out to have a black belt in judo. The waif and stray of this novel lives in an era well before the emancipation of women but even in the original text she was able to make her own way in the world and chose the right moral path. Add a few vampires and zombies and you bring the subtext of ‘Jane Eyre’ to life.
The dark gothic novel which had a put upon Plain Jane for its heroine who suffered for her lack of both beauty and funds who meets a tortured soul who happens to have a mad wife secured in his attic is treated to a makeover. Here Jane lives with her resentful aunt and cousins who have already turned to the dark side. Luckily, Jane isn’t just another meal for her blood-sucking relatives, as is she is considered to be too common to sup on. Her cousin John treats himself to a few nips nevertheless and before long Jane is starting to sharpen her stakes.
Her escape comes when she is sent to Lowood, a charity school run by Mr Bokorhurst who believes Jane to be an ungrateful and vicious child. Nevertheless, Jane is loved by Miss Temple, the head-teacher and her friend, the sickly Helen Burns. Together, they must fight a new threat; the zombies that threaten the existence of the school.
If you are familiar with the original then you will be intrigued as to how the plot develops to show Jane as a vampire slayer. I am pleased to say it was delightfully entertaining. There are one or two hiccups where the odd American phrase jars when it slips into the description or dialogue. There are also one or two slips with the spelling, an indictment of the lack of proof-reading in this mechanised age. Overall, though, this book stands up well and has certainly made me want to revisit ‘Jane Eyre’ to see how the structure has been created.
Nineteenth century gothic novels are vibrant tools to use as a structure to build on for these mash-ups. I hope it does not prevent the publication of completely new novels which don’t lean on the past but this certainly adds to the study of the gothic novel and how much used to be imbued in its pages. Practically every book has now been plundered, so we can perhaps look forward to a change to some new reworking of another era. I personally can’t wait for ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ where Oberon turns Bottom into a nice juicy steak instead of an ass. Bon Appetit.
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