Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Death Of A Schoolgirl - Joanna Campbell Slan


Death Of A Schoolgirl
The Jane Eyre Chronicles
Joanna Campbell Slan
Berkley Prime Crime
 
Historical Mystery
 
This story picks up after the events of “Jane Eyre.”  If you haven’t read the original, the author helpfully fills in the applicable plot points via Jan’s narration and memories.  If you have read the original, this seems like a real continuation of the story.  The atmosphere is wonderfully gothic and Jane, while she has matured into a wife and mother, is still the calm and responsible heroine readers have known and loved for generations. 
 
After the events of the original novel, Jane and her husband (and new son) are living at Ferndean, a country house built as a hunting lodge for earlier generations of Rochester men.  There is some talk of rebuilding Thornfield Hall, which was destroyed by fire, but Rochester’s injuries preclude taking action at the moment.  Rochester’s ward, the irrepressible French child, Adèle, lives at a fashionable boarding school in London.  When Adèle sends a frantic letter asking for help, Jane journeys to London, intent on bringing the child home.
 
Upon arriving at the school, Jane is met by the sight of a stretcher being removed into a hearse.  It seems that Adèle, this time, was not simply being overly dramatic.  The stretcher contains the body of one of her schoolmates.  Since Jane has never followed fashion, her modest appearance allows her to be mistaken for an expected teacher.  She decides to go along with the mistake, since it will allow her access to the school and everyone in it, while she searches for the murderer.

The author has done a truly amazing job of continuing the voice and atmosphere of the original, while expanding Jane’s world and the people in it.  It’s quite nice to see Jane in the role of teacher again, and her rapport with the students is completely believable.  The mystery plot is nicely twisty and the new characters introduced are realistic and most welcome.  I’m so happy to know that future volumes are forthcoming.  As someone who loves the Brontë novel, this is like a visit with an old and cherished friend.
 
Rating: 8
August 2012
ISBN# 978-0-425-24774-7 (trade paperback)

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