Friday, February 1, 2019

Backlist Mini-Reviews: Retellings of My Favorite Classic Novels

The Winters by Lisa Gabriele (2018)

A retelling of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, set in modern-day Long Island.  Rebecca was one of my favorite books from a couple years ago, so I was really interested in how this book would update the classic.

Like the original, we have an unnamed narrator who falls head over heels for a wealthy man, Max Winter.  When he brings her home (to his mansion Asherly), she begins to feel threatened by the memory of his late wife, Rebekah, and she also must deal with Max's teenage daughter, Dani.  Although this book paled in comparison a bit with the original, it was still a strong story.

More of a psychological thriller than a Gothic story, I definitely had questions about where the story was headed, if it would stay close to the original or not.  The addition of the stepdaughter was a nice touch.  Dani was manipulative and maybe a tad unstable, and she added a modern-feeling element, especially since she lived for social media.  I had reservations about the relationship between the narrator and Max; for much of the story, she seemed content to take his side for everything, while at the same time never really feeling like she fit in.  The story wasn't super-suspenseful (it had more of a quiet, gloomy feel) but there were several twists at the end I didn't see coming.  4 stars



My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies #2) by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton (2018)

A retelling of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, in which Jane and Charlotte are actually close friends, and Jane can see ghosts.  Jane Eyre is one of my favorite classics, so I was really looking forward to seeing how the authors would put their spin on it, and I was not disappointed!

There were so many things to love about this book:

- how the authors maintained the big elements from the original story
- how they added new spins to those classic elements (I especially loved how they incorporated Rochester's wife)
- the bits of humor
- the friendship between Charlotte and Jane, and how Charlotte was inspired by Jane's life to write her stories
- the addition of the ghosts and the society that relocates them (and the conspiracy that went along with it)
- how Helen, Jane's childhood friend, was a big part of the book, even after her death.

It wasn't perfect, though, unfortunately.  At times the story felt a bit repetitive and sometimes the characters acted kind of immaturely (which is understandable, I guess, it just irked me a little).  I also found myself not really caring about Alexander, even though he was a major character in the book.  4 stars

21 comments:

  1. The Winters sounds interesting, although it's a pity it's not very suspenseful. I haven't read Rebecca yet but I desperately want to! I love Gothic novels.

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  2. I still need to read My Plain Jane. I keep hearing so many fantastic things about it. I am happy that you found it enjoyable despite your issues with it. The Winters was one that I really enjoyed as well. :)

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    1. The Lady Janies series so far has been fantastic!

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  3. I usually avoid retellings like the plague, but I want to read those Jane books. They sound unusual. Great reviews!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. They are very creative and fun! I didn't think I would like them, but I really have!

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  4. I've been really curious about The Winters. I love Rebecca and am picky about modern day stories, but you've made me more interested in checking it out. I've heard really good things about the Jane books also. Nice reviews!

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    1. Thanks, Jordan! I think The Winters did a good job of retaining some big elements and modernizing others.

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  5. Interesting idea, but I think I like too much Rebecca to try another book around it

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  6. The Janie books are really fun. I liked all the pop culture references and the whole Ghostbusters vibe.

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  7. I'm not sure I've actually read any reviews of the Janies books, but I've been interested in the concept, so I'm glad to hear this one was pretty good :)

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  8. Great reviews. The Winters sounds pretty interesting to me, although I still need to read Rebecca first since somehow I've never gotten around to that one yet. I know what you mean about My Plain Jane too. I liked it but not nearly as much as I liked the first book in the series.

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    1. Rebecca was so good! I hope you enjoy it. Yeah, My Plain Jane was missing just a little something for me, so that was a bit disappointing considering how much I love Jane Eyre.

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  9. The Jane's series has been on my TBR since I heard about the first one so now I really need to get to it. I think I should read the originals first though - I can't remember anything for all those years ago!!!

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  10. I have My Lady Jane but still need to read My Plain Jane first. I don't like reading a series out of order. I am glad you liked the book and gives me hope for them. I am interested in The Winters also. I will have to add that one to my list to read. =)

    Mary

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I'm so glad you stopped by, and I would love to hear your thoughts! Comments are always greatly appreciated!