A Breath of Eyre
by Eve Marie Mont
Emma Townsend has always believed in stories—the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates in her head. Perhaps it’s because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn’t come close to filling the void left by her mother’s death. And her only romantic prospect—apart from a crush on her English teacher—is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma’s confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre…
Reading of Jane’s isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane’s body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she’s never known—and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane’s story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own…
I loved this novel! It was the exact right mix of fantasy(daydreaming?) and reality. I love contemporary fiction. I love fantasy. Mix em up and I'm in heaven. Throw in one of my favorite literary novels and I have actually died and gone to heaven!! This one even dealt respectfully with the issue of Bipolar Disorder. Teens do have it hard. They've got all those hormones going on, then all those issues, that now seem so small to us as adults, but to the teens reading YA, seem HUGE! They were to me. Like what to wear and who liked who and what I got on my Algebra test. But throw in being a scholarship student just trying to be invisible so you don't incur the wrath of the popular girls, a stepmother who you can't stand, and a weird change in your relationship with the boy you've known since you were a toddler and now you're crushing on and you've got even bigger problems. Oh, and then there's that whole living Jane Eyre's life thing. Kinda tough. Just a note- This is absolutely not a retelling of Jane Eyre or Emma living the life of Jane Eyre. It goes back and forth between the present and Jane Eyre.
The thing I loved about this book was that there was a plausible explanation for Emma being in Jane Eyre. I won't say why, but something happened to her that would account for her possibly dreaming the whole thing even though it felt real. And even though Emma knew the story of Jane Eyre, she only vaguely remembered bits and pieces of the story while she was in it so that she had to make her own decisions and didn't try to copy the decisions that Jane had. She grew to really love her time at Thornfield and she really doesn't know anything about the strange goings on in the house or the secret Rochester is keeping from her, from everyone. And Emma comes back from Thornfield and has to deal with real life. And it's tough. Things aren't easy and Emma isn't exactly one for facing up to hard things. And then she escapes again to Jane Eyre when she should be facing something hard.
I loved the way a minor, but forceful character in Jane Eyre was brought to life and concentrated on. I also loved that the people at Thornfield were all familiar to Emma, from her English teacher to the librarian. And that the truths in Jane Eyre made Emma question the truths in her own life and show some true character growth. While I didn't love Emma in the beginning, I admired her in the end for the things she did to help the people she loved.
Some of the sides characters were really lovable. Emma's troubled friend Gray was very genuine. I knew from the moment he started trading wisecracks with her that I would love him if I were her. They'd known each other forever, their mothers being best friends. Their circumstances were different, his family wealthy, hers not and her mother dead. But they were still thrown together because his mother kept in touch. There were hints about him being a player before but in this book he was sincere and caring and I really loved him. There was also Michelle, Emma's roommate, tough on the outside, but just the same scared girl on the inside, thrown to the wolves of the super rich and their unfortunate target because she was on scholarship and spoke her mind. And the hippie like Owen who is so down to earth despite his father's incredible wealth.
This novel blows all the other fall into another character book books out of the water. The contrast between the present and the book kept it from being a copy or rewrite of Jane Eyre and made it something really enjoyable to read. It was fast paced and the romance, though it kept you guessing (no love triangle!) was perfect. And this is a series! The next book is A Touch of Scarlet with the book pairing being The Scarlet Letter. And there is a scene from that book in the end of the book (I read the ARC). There is also a great quiz in the back to take to see what literary character you are. It was fun and actually enlightening for me to take.
I highly recommend this book for lovers of YA contemporary, historicals, fantasy, romance, or just a really great book! I am really looking forward to A Touch of Scarlet.
*Just a note, I don't think you have to read Jane Eyre, but I think it helps. Some references are vague and you may not understand. The emphasis wasn't a retelling of Jane Eyre or living in the book of Jane Eyre.
I received an ARC of this novel from the author for review. This in no way influenced my opinions of the novel. Thank you Eve Marie Mont for the ARC.