Janeby April Lindner
Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a… See more details below
Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.
But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?
An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.
"A fascinating, fantastical story line of secrets and star-crossed love...Set against a vivid, well-drawn, contemporary world, this is a compelling adaptation of an ageless romance."
I couldn't put Jane down! Whether you love literature, romance, thrillers, or anything in between, you'll get swept up in Jane all the way to its scrumptious, satisfying end."
-Sara Shepard, New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars series"
Well-written and faithful to the original, Lindner's story imbues Jane with the requisite innocence, stubbornness, and darkness of Brontë's protagonist...A fresh and addictive adaptation."
There's nothing plain about Jane. April Lindner executes the cool trick of being stubbornly loyal to the well-loved original while creating something totally new and captivating."
-Cecily von Ziegesar, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Gossip Girl series
"Jane is a captivating modern love story of a young woman who refuses to compromise her values, and fans of Bronte's Jane Eyre are sure to praise this rousing retelling with its rock 'n' roll twist."
Lindner's love story delivers an entrancing star-crossed relationship, and it is not necessary to be familiar with the original to enjoy it."
-School Library Journal
"A sparkling new novel of impossible love, tragic deceit, and a wicked fine guitar solo."
-Anne Osterlund, author of Aurelia
"A remarkable, rocking good love story."
-Justina Chen, author of North of Beautiful
Retelling a classic as contemporary fiction is a tricky business, as demonstrated in this uneven rendering of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre as chick lit. Forced to leave college by the death of her parents, Jane finds employment at Thornfield Hall as nanny to the daughter of former rock megastar Nico Rathburn, who's now making a comeback. Both quickly fall in love with Jane, although she's a distinctly odd duck, primly thinking of and addressing her employer as "Mr. Rathburn" and disconnected from her peers. Jane's passivity and naïve acceptance of strange doings at Thornfield feel anachronistic. They're superficially faithful to the original, but readers will miss Brontë's Gothic intensity. Mr. Rochester, the archetypal Brontë hero—mysterious and dangerous, irresistible to Jane and generations of readers—doesn't survive translation into a YouTube-era celebrity. Jane Eyre's harsh world was perilous for single, penniless women; ours—even for an impecunious Sarah Lawrence dropout—can't compete. Flashes of originality, wit and vivid imagery bring the story to life intermittently, but the distracting improbabilities pull readers out of the story again and again. (author's note) (Fiction. 15 & up)
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By Lindner, April
PoppyCopyright © 2010 Lindner, April
All right reserved.
The chairs in the lobby of Discriminating Nannies, Inc., were less comfortable than they looked. I sat stiffly in the one nearest the exit, where, feeling like an impostor in my gray herringbone suit from Goodwill, I could watch the competition come and go. I’d had some trouble walking up the steps from the subway in my low pumps and narrow skirt. The new shoes chafed my heels, and I had to keep reminding myself to take small steps so as not to rip the skirt’s satin lining. I dressed carefully that morning, pulling my hair away from my face with a large silver barrette, determined to look the part of a nanny — or how I imagined a nanny should look — tidy, responsible, wise.
But I had gotten it wrong. The other applicants seemed to be college girls like me. One had situated herself in the middle of the taupe sofa and was calmly reading InStyle magazine; she wore faded jeans and a cardigan, her red hair tousled. Another, in a full skirt and flat shoes I coveted, listened to her iPod, swaying almost imperceptibly in time to the music. But maybe they weren’t feeling as desperate as I was, acid churning in my stomach, pulse fluttering in my throat.
In my lap rested a leather portfolio containing my woefully brief résumé, my nanny-training certificate, a copy of my transcript, and nothing else. The portfolio had been a Christmas gift from my parents just a few short months ago. It was one of the last gifts they had given me before the accident. But as I waited, I couldn’t let myself dwell on how my mother had handed me the box wrapped in gold paper and, her eyes not meeting mine, how she had apologized for not knowing what sort of present I would like. I felt a pang of remorse; her tone implied the failing was mine. I’d heard it before: I was too reserved, too opaque; my interests weren’t normal for a girl my age. Still, my mother had let me give her a thank-you kiss on the cheek. She appeared relieved when I told her the portfolio was just what I would need when I finished school and went out into the world looking for a job. Of course, neither of us realized then how soon that need would arise.
I looked up. A thin woman with an asymmetrical black bob stood in the doorway. I jumped to my feet. Too eager, I chided myself. Try not to look so desperate. The woman quickly sized me up. I could see it in her sharp eyes and closed-mouth smile: I was dressed like a parody of a nanny, too fussily, all wrong. She introduced herself as Julie Draper, shook my hand, turned briskly, and strode through the door and down a long hallway. I hurried after her.
The narrow office held too many chairs to choose from; was this a test? I took the one closest to her desk, careful to cross my legs at the ankles and not to slouch. I handed my certificate and my résumé — proofread ten times and letter perfect — across her enormous mahogany desk. Through purple-rimmed reading glasses, she scanned it in silence. Just when I thought I had better say something, anything, she looked up.
“You would be a more attractive candidate if you had a degree. Why are you dropping out?”
“Financial need.” Though I had expected this question and rehearsed my reply, my voice caught in my throat. On the subway ride downtown, I had considered telling the whole story — how my parents had died four months ago, black ice, my father’s Saab flipping over a guardrail. How they hadn’t had much in the way of life insurance, and the stocks they left me in their will had turned out to be almost worthless. How the house had been left to my brother, and how the minute he sold it he disappeared, leaving no forwarding address, no phone number. How the spring semester that was coming to a close would have to be my last. How I’d been too depressed to plan for my future until it dawned on me that the dorms were about to close and I’d be homeless in less than a week. How the only place I had left to go would be my sister’s condo in Manhattan, and how very displeased she would be to see me on her doorstep — almost as displeased as I would be to find myself there. But I couldn’t trust my voice not to quaver, so I stayed silent.
Julie Draper looked at me awhile, as if waiting for more. Then she glanced back down at her desk. “Your grades are strong,” she said.
I nodded. “If you need more information, faculty reports for each of my classes are stapled to the back of my résumé.” My voice sounded clipped and efficient and false.
She rifled through the pages. “I see most of your classes were in art and French literature.” I waited for her to point out how hugely impractical my choices had been, but she surprised me. “That kind of training could be very attractive in a nanny. Many of our clients want caregivers who can offer cultural enrichment to their charges. A knowledge of French could be very appealing.” A pause. “And you’ve taken a couple of courses in child development. That’s a plus.”
“I’ve been babysitting since I was twelve. And I took care of one-year-old twins last summer.” Too bad I’d had to spend all my savings on textbooks and art supplies for the spring semester. “My references will tell you how reliable I am and how much their children like me. I’m strict but kind.” I paused to inhale; apparently I’d been forgetting to breathe.
Something changed in her voice. “Tell me: how do you feel about music?”
“I took violin lessons in middle school,” I answered. “I don’t really remember how to play.”
She waved one hand as if I’d written my answer on a blackboard and she was wiping it away. “Popular music. How do you feel about it?”
The question struck me as odd. “Well,” I said, stalling a moment. “I don’t mind it, but I don’t listen to it much.” Would this be a strike against me? “I tend to like classical music. Baroque. Romantic. But not the modern atonal kind.”
“And celebrities?” She leaned in over the desk. “Do you read gossip magazines? People? Us, Star, the National Enquirer? Do you watch Entertainment Tonight?”
The hoped-for answer to this question began to dawn on me. Fortunately, it was the truth. “I don’t care much about celebrities.”
“How do you react when you see them on the street?”
“I don’t know,” I said. I might as well be honest. “I’ve never seen one on the street.” I sat up a little straighter. “I believe I would leave them alone.”
She pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes. A moment passed. Then she smiled for the first time, a wide smile that revealed slightly overlapping bottom teeth. “You just might be perfect.”
The morning after the interview, my cell phone rang. I was walking back to the dorm from the bookstore where I’d turned in my textbooks for a not-very-satisfactory amount of cash. I paused on the pathway and let the other students flow around me. On the line was Julie Draper, sounding slightly breathless, much younger, and less formidable than she had in person. “Jane, I’m so glad to catch you. I have great news, a position to offer you.”
My heart thumped so loudly I worried she might be able to hear it through the phone. “That’s wonderful,” was all I dared say.
“More wonderful than you know,” she told me. “This is a plum position. By all rights it should go to a more experienced child-care provider, but until you came along, I hadn’t been able to find a candidate I could trust to have the right” — her voice trailed off — “the right attitude.”
I cast around for my job-interview voice, the one that had apparently served me so well yesterday. Though she couldn’t see me, I threw back my shoulders and raised my chin. “I look forward to hearing more. Where will I be working?”
Julie Draper laughed in a surprisingly musical tone. “This will sound bizarre, but I can’t give you any more details over the phone. How soon can you be at my office?”
When I arrived at Discriminating Nannies, the first thing Julie Draper did was offer me coffee in a slightly chipped mug. Then she swore me to secrecy.
“You can’t tell anyone the details of this position,” she warned. “Not your friends, not your family.”
“I promise.” It would be an easy vow to keep. Who would I tell? My best friend from Sarah Lawrence had transferred to a school in her home state, Iowa; on top of classes, she’d been working extra shifts to save up for a semester abroad in Italy, and we hadn’t spoken in months. And after the accident I hadn’t had the heart for socializing. I knew I would drag down any party I went to, so I spent most of my time in the studio, priming canvas after canvas, trying to settle on something to paint. Every idea I came up with — the stand of trees outside the wide window, an abandoned bird’s nest I’d found on a walk, my own pale face in the mirror — made me tired, my arms too heavy to lift even a paintbrush. More nights than one, I’d slept on the sagging, paint-flecked studio couch, unable to face the five-minute walk back to the dorm. My parents had never quite understood me, and Mom had never made any secret of the fact that my conception had been a less-than-welcome surprise. You might think those things would make me slightly less miserable about losing my parents, but in some ways it made the loss even worse. Not only had they never shown me the kind of attention and appreciation they’d given my brother and sister, now it was official: they never would.
“Your future employer is, well, let’s just say, he’s of interest to the media.” Was that a dimple in Julie Draper’s cheek? “A celebrity. It’s crucial that you not do anything to call attention to him. Anything that goes on in his house, no matter how big or small, must not be discussed with outsiders.” The dimple disappeared. “There will be a confidentiality agreement to sign. You are free to run it by a lawyer.”
A lawyer? A confidentiality agreement? It did me little good to wonder what exactly I was getting myself into; at this point, I was already in it up to my ankles. “That won’t be necessary,” I said, trying to sound calm. “I’m happy to sign.”
“To be absolutely honest, you were chosen because I have an instinct about you,” Julie told me. “You seem trustworthy.”
I nodded as solemnly as I could. But then I couldn’t help myself; I blurted out, “But what sort of person is my employer?”
“Jane,” she said, dimple returning, “surely you’ve heard of Nico Rathburn?”
She didn’t say “surely even you have heard of Nico Rathburn,” but the “even you” was in her voice. And it was true, even I had heard of Nico Rathburn. I probably knew all the words to his hit song “Wrong Way Down a One-Way Street.” It was one of those songs you heard everywhere you went — at the mall, in the grocery store, blaring from the radios in other people’s cars. I could still recall Rathburn’s cool dark stare in a poster tacked up on the wall above my brother’s bed, his denim-clad form posed in front of a brick wall, a flame-red electric guitar brandished in his hands. Mark had gone to one of his concerts. I was little then, maybe in elementary school, certainly too young to stay home alone, so my mom dragged me along on the ride into the city, Mark and his best friend chortling in the backseat, playing with the Bic lighters they would ignite to demand an encore. I remember being afraid they would set the upholstery on fire. And I’d been brought along on the ride to pick them up from the Spectrum too. I remember the strange and pungent smell that clung to the oversized black concert T-shirts they wore over their usual clothes, and the lights of the city, a thrilling expanse of electricity and skyscrapers glimpsed from the highway overpass that hastened us back to the suburbs.
But even if Mark hadn’t been a fan, I would have heard of Nico Rathburn. For as long as I could remember, he’d been one of those celebrities whose name conjured up instant associations, most of them having more to do with his dramatic personal life than his music. I vaguely recalled something about his being busted for possession of cocaine, something else about a car crash and a string of high-profile girlfriends. Then there was the on-again, off-again marriage to a model whose name I couldn’t remember. Hadn’t they both been junkies? Suddenly chilled, I rubbed my arms for warmth. How badly did I need this job? I thought of my dwindling savings account, of the few belongings I hadn’t carted to Goodwill that were crammed into a couple of suitcases on the floor of my dorm room.
“Sure, he’s been out of the papers for a few years,” Julie continued, “and you’d think he wasn’t such a hot commodity anymore. But the tabloids are like sharks, always circling, hungry for blood. He needs his employees to be absolutely discreet.”
“Um,” I stammered. “He has children?”
“A girl, five years old, named Madeline. It was in the news, but you don’t remember, I suppose.” Julie’s voice turned impatient, despite the fact that she hired me precisely because I wouldn’t care about such things, much less remember them. “Madeline’s mother was a pop star in France; she cut a solo album on a U.S. record label a few years back. That was the high point of her career. Maybe you’ve heard of her? Celine?”
The name was familiar. “What happened to her? The mother, I mean. Does she have shared custody?”
“The details shouldn’t concern you.” Julie was back to the brusque, professional version of herself. “Not that they wouldn’t be hard to find if you went looking for them. But I’d advise you not to buy into every overblown story you read in the tabloids. That business with his wife, with Celine, the drug use.… He’s been sober for a while now. That’s all you really need to know.”
“Oh,” I said. “I’m glad to hear it.” My voice didn’t have much conviction in it.
“Listen, Jane.” She looked pointedly in my eyes. “Nico Rathburn is a devoted father. That bad-boy stuff is old news. Besides” — she paused for emphasis — “the pay is excellent. You’ll be living in a mansion in Connecticut. And you’ll get… you’ll get proximity to one of the gods of rock-and-roll music. You do know how many nannies would kill for this position, right?” She rifled through a folder and drew out a document on legal-size paper. “You’re a lucky, lucky girl.”
Excerpted from Jane by Lindner, April Copyright © 2010 by Lindner, April. Excerpted by permission.
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