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