Escaping Mr. Rochester

HarperTeen. Jan. 2024. 352p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780062986269.
Gr 9 Up–Superfans of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, readers who have knit that plot into their very bones, should probably stay away from this reimagining of the classic novel. To start, both Jane and Edward are described as strikingly attractive. But for those who can separate themselves from Brontë’s Jane and relax into a new world of Gothic intrigue? A romantic thriller awaits. It’s told through two perspectives. There’s Jane, the new governess at expansive but shabby Thornfield. And there’s also Bertha, who happily married Edward Rochester, the master of Thornfield, only to be betrayed and imprisoned in the attic. Both women experience danger—overtly for Bertha, implicitly for Jane—but their reaction isn’t fear. It’s rage, pure and vibrating and lovely to behold. Jane is prickly and resourceful, and once she and the iron-willed Bertha make contact, magic happens. Their mutual attraction and vendettas lead to a combustible takedown of the prideful Mr. Rochester. Maneuvering against his one-note villainy perfectly showcases the power of female anger. Both Jane and Bertha are Black.
VERDICT A swoonworthy sapphic-tinged YA romance highlighting the beauty of women working together.

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