“ Paperback: 288 pages / Publisher: Piatkus / Published: 1 Nov 2012 „
Jane Eyre is a classic I studied to death in high school, but I didn't mind because it's a book I enjoyed then and still enjoy now. Jane Eyrotica is, to put it simply, a smutty version of the classic. Hot on the heels of the likes of Fifty Shades Of Grey, this is a reworking in which the once demure Jane beds anything with a pulse.
There have been a few changes, of course. This Jane joins us when she is a legal 16 years old, not a mere 10, so she can, literally and metaphorically, jump right in. At the same time, I felt this re-working stayed reasonably true to the original. Both the story and the characters themselves were recognisable, and it has been some years now since I read the original. This new version is significantly abridged - even with the addition of kinky moments, it comes out as far fewer pages than the original - but I didn't feel too much was lost.
I liked the premise of this book, but I felt let down by the execution. It felt a bit too crude at times, and I didn't feel the language was always in keeping with the era. Would Jane, for example, really have used such a crude phrase as his erection pressed against my stomach? I'm not sure she would. I'm not sure anyone should, for that matter. It's hardly a hot description, is it?
The whole thing feels more than a little inspired by a certain Ana Steele. At one point Jane exploded into tiny pieces which is just the kind of thing Ana would say. And there's the repetition too. While Ana was always telling us that Christian reached for little foil packets, this being a different era Jane is forever using the phrase that (various) people pulled out of me and came. This is again quite crude, and not a description I find particularly hot (sticky? Yes. Hot? Not so much) and also begs the question of how so many of her dalliances went undetected, especially when she was still a teenager living with the Reeds. She would, for want of a better phrase, have reeked of sex.
It's always a risk to take a well known (and loved) classic such as this and do anything extreme to it, so I think we should respect the author for having tried. It's a good story to add some kink to, and not just because of the great title, and I think Rose tried hard to stick to the style of the original. But it is (ahem) hard. It's not about adding more filth to the original, because there was none there to start with, and so vocabulary and descriptions need to be conjured up from scratch. It's also tricky to know just how sexually adventurous women like Jane would have been back then, for it would never have been talked, or written, about. She certainly seems a bit wilder than one might have anticipated but then I suppose if you're going to eroticise a book such as this, you may as well go all the way.
Ultimately, this is the same old story, imagined in a different way, and though it wasn't my cup of tea, on reflection I think it would perhaps have been hard to add any sex scenes that I would find a turn on while keeping in the vein of the original language. I would have expect more subtleties, a bit of innuendo (in your end-o?), euphemistic expressions, that sort of thing, but the overall attempt, while not a winner for me, was certainly interesting. For want of a better phrase she gave it a good bash.
This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk
Dirty Jane Eyre (what I nicknamed this book) is out now in paperback and on Kindle