Review: Re Jane by Patricia Park

This is the year of all things Jane Eyre! With it being the 200th anniversary for Jane Eyre, there are TONS of retellings out there right now!

Jane Eyre isn’t my most favorite Bronte book but I do admire Jane’s spirit and it’s always fun to read modern retellings of classics!

So even though this book sounded a little different….I like different…..so I agreed to read it and see what it’s all about!

For Jane Re, half-Korean, half-American orphan, Flushing, Queens, is the place she’s been trying to escape from her whole life. Sardonic yet vulnerable, Jane toils, unappreciated, in her strict uncle’s grocery store and politely observes the traditional principle of nunchi (a combination of good manners, hierarchy, and obligation).

Desperate for a new life, she’s thrilled to become the au pair for the Mazer-Farleys, two Brooklyn English professors and their adopted Chinese daughter. Inducted into the world of organic food co-ops, and nineteenth–century novels, Jane is the recipient of Beth Mazer’s feminist lectures and Ed Farley’s very male attention.

But when a family death interrupts Jane and Ed’s blossoming affair, she flies off to Seoul, leaving New York far behind.

Reconnecting with family, and struggling to learn the ways of modern-day Korea, Jane begins to wonder if Ed Farley is really the man for her. Jane returns to Queens, where she must find a balance between two cultures and accept who she really is.

For me, the whole Jane Eyre connection wasn’t that obvious in this book/retelling. I don’t know why but it just didn’t jump off the pages for me. Sure there were similarities such as the whole orphan thing, her name, and the romantic connection between Jane and Ed but for me personally, it didn’t shout ‘Jane Eyre’. I personally felt like the characters were their own and the story was their own, not necessarily a ‘retelling’. Others might feel differently but that was just my observation….now that said, it wasn’t a bad read by any means! But when it’s marketed as a retelling, it kind of gives the reader a premise and expectation that this book didn’t meet for me.

I thought the whole Korean and American contrast worked well in the novel. I haven’t read a lot of Asian based literature and though this isn’t strictly an ‘Asian’ novel it definitely had Asian flare and I really thought that worked in this book! I especially liked the biracial relationship aspect…..it added depth and interest for me in both of the characters.

I enjoyed watching Jane grow throughout the book. I thought she had great potential and conveyed the cultural complexities very well. She was a well constructed character who had the ability to grow throughout the story and that readers could root for and identify with. However, I struggled at times to see in Ed what she was seeing as a romantic interest. I didn’t care for Ed that much. He was just ok for me. Something about him was off…..I felt similarly about Rochester in Jane Eyre but something about Ed was just off for me and I can’t quite put my finger on what but just a feeling I had as a reader.

For me this was just an ok read. I think my expectations were in the vein of retelling and I felt like I got more of an independent story, which was fine but my expectations were a retelling. I enjoyed the cultural aspects of this novel a lot though. I thought it was an interesting contrast and would have read it just based on the complexity of an interracial relationship. If you are interested in a culturally interesting novel then this is a great book….intriguing and well written, but if you are looking for a retelling of Jane Eyre you might be a little let down.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Re Jane by Patricia Park

  • Paperback, 352 pages
    Published April 19th 2016 by Penguin Books (first published May 5th 2015)
  • Review copy provided by: Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 3 out of 5

Genre: contempo fiction, Asian lit, romance

Memorable lines/quotes: NA

 

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