This book started off well, but it had a pretty solid idea to build off of. Jane Eyre is a masterpiece for a reason, but Gemma Hardy is just... guh.
The first problem is the timeline. We're told that it takes place after WWII but I kept forgetting this, and really, I feel like the author did too. When something like a car or record player was mentioned, it was startling--"Oh yeah, this is in the 50s... or was it 60s?"
For a book supposedly about that time period, there were some strange elements. For example, the main character is ready to sleep with someone... but doesn't seem to have any conscious thought of consequences (I found myself wondering, Does she know what sex actually is?). We're told she was raised by a pastor; I would assume that pre-marital sex would have been a problem. Oh, of course, she doesn't really believe in God... convenient.
Then there are the characters, and their development. Gemma starts off strong, but becomes a sniveling baby that can't really do anything without help. Her romantic interest is pretty boring, and there's nothing memorable about him. It's rare to run into this kind of non-developed character, but it happens in this book. He has no personality or anything else; his main function is just to help move the plot along.
The girl that Gemma goes to teach, Nell, displays random acts of disturbing violence, but no one seems to really think about the implications of this, and (of course) at the end she somehow turns into a caring, lovely girl with good behavior. I just don't get it.
The St. John character is a complete disgrace and makes no sense.
Now, the crux of the book would be the relationship between Jane and Edward--but these two just don't work. Gemma runs away for a reason I can't fathom at all; after that, the book just fell flat, and I realized I didn't care. Everyone could die in the end, and I wouldn't care. To be blunt, these characters all suck. If you want a Jane Eyre story, read the original, and skip this pile of bunk.
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