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Death of a Schoolgirl (Jane Eyre Chronicles) [Paperback]

Joanna Campbell Slan

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Death of a Schoolgirl In her classic tale, Charlotte Bronte introduced readers to the strong willed and intelligent Jane Eyre. Picking up where Bronte left off, the year is now 1851, and Jane's life has finally settled but she soon finds herself in the midst of new challenges and threats to those she loves. Full description

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  40 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic mystery and excellent recreation of Jane! 7 Aug 2012
By Charlene - Published on
I am such a big Jane Eyre fan, and I am happy to say I was not disappointed by this book!! I loved the story and the fact that the author took great pains to capture Charlotte Brontė's writing style, making this book feel like a continuation of Jane's "autobiographies" as she continues to tell the story of her life. Having read a couple of books with the set-up of Jane writing a "what-happened-next" story, I believe Joanna Campbell Slan has done the best job in approximating Charlotte Brontė's flowery prose and capturing the sensible, intelligent voice of Jane.

I think it is important to comment especially on the characterization of Jane and Rochester and how well their married life is captured- Jane is recreated almost perfectly, with all of her confidence and compassion, and she deals with the events calmly with "resources never suspected". I liked how the author has matured Jane as well, since she is married and a mother, with more responsibilities. Mr. Rochester has matured too, accepting his disabilities and willing to follow doctor's orders carefully to restore his eyesight. Even if it means letting Jane travel to London without him. I think the tenor of their married life in this book is perfect, and as loving and romantic as the original novel.

The story was a great character-driven mystery, with a wide choice of possible suspects, and subtle clues that were very hard to pick up on. I was really kept in the dark until the very end, where even when the matter seemed resolved, there was another twist. Adele was turned into some great comic relief, and I loved how forthright she was, despite everyone disparaging her French nature. This novel also incorporates some history and social discussions pertinent to Jane and Rochester's status and the time period the novel is set in. It is a subtle shift in tone from the original novel where the focus is on Jane's development and her struggles, to this new story that creates a Jane, who, having found herself, can now help others. There are wider responsibilities that Jane and Rochester face as a part of society and also landowners and Jane also has to face the ugly rumors circulated by the Ingrams about Rochester and their relationship. (I can't wait until Rochester hears about it!) All this adds more dimension to the story - setting up more themes to be explored in later installments of the Jane Eyre Chronicles. (Next one is reportedly called Death of a Dowager... Dowager Lady Ingram??? <-- pure speculation on my part!)

There is plenty of explanation and back story for readers who haven't read the original novel, or who have not read it in awhile, so it is easy to sit back and enjoy this layered and well-executed historical mystery. And fans of the original novel will appreciate the intelligence and care the author has taken to maintain the spirit of Jane.

(A copy of this novel was provided in exchange for an honest review)
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Summer Read 7 Aug 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
The classic story of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte continues in this new book by Joanna Campbell Slan. The story starts out with Jane and Edward Rochester living happily with their newborn son set in 1820 which is just a little after where the original Jane Eyre stopped. Things appear to be going well until they get a disturbing letter from Edward's ward who was sent to a girls boarding school in London. With Edward not able to travel, Jane sets out for London to check on the girl. In route, Jane runs into all kinds of problems and they don't stop when she finally reaches London. Her first visit to the boarding house has her embroiled in a murder mystery that she can not help but try to solve.

In classic Jane Eyre fashion, Joanna has spun a story that will keep you turning the page to find out what will happen and who did it. The book is so well written that you could have just read the original Jane Eyre and then picked up Death of a Schoolgirl and continued with her story and not lost a beat. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and look forward to the continued escapades of Jane.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Death of a Schoolgirl 7 Aug 2012
By Karen Rushton - Published on
I don't know if I can find the words to adequately convey what a brillaint book this is. If you only buy one book today, this week or this year, make this your choice. I am so glad I read this book. If you liked Jane Eyre, you will love this book. It is cleverly and elegantly written. I was transported to a bygone era and wrapped in a cashmere cloak of mystery. I met characters I loved and have compassion for their circumstances. This book flows beautifully with the well known and much loved character that is Jane, who we have loved for so long. I enjoyed this book so much that I want to read more about the Rochesters. My gift giving shopping list has just gotten a whole lot simpler and I am glad because I know how happy my friends and relatives will be with reading this book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slan Scores Again! 9 Aug 2012
By Julie Failla Earhart - Published on
Charlotte Bronte wrote one of the greatest love stories of all time, the gothic novel Jane Eyre. When readers last see Jane, the Thornfield mansion lies on fiery ruins, she has married her beloved Edward Rochester, and has given birth to a son. Many critics say the ending is disturbing and complex; others say it is easy to decipher and leaves no dangling strings.
Now mystery and nonfiction author Joanna Campbell Slan takes up where Bronte left off in her new mystery. The new book takes up where Bronte's ended. It is April 1820 and Jane has given birth to a son. She and Rochester are deliriously happy.
The novel skips to October when Jane receives several troublesome letters from Adele Varens, Edward's ward. Adele is in a London boarding school. The letters indicate that lives are in jeopardy and "Help!" is scrawled across the top of one such letter.
Jane, as much as she hates to leave baby Ned and Edward, decides that she cannot be completely happy unless she is sure that Adele is safe and unharmed. On her way she is robbed of the Rochester jewels. But that is a side story.
When Jane arrives at the school, a dead body is being removed. Fearing it is Adele, Jane sneaks into the school's kitchen. Upon the discovery of her intrusion, Jane assumes the role of the missing German teacher. The dead girl turns out to be one of Adele's classmates and bunks in the bed beside hers.
Jane, as the new teacher, begins to uncover many dark secrets that lead in several directions. Could there be a sadist among the women who care for the girls? What about the amount of alcohol that the superintendent and cook seem to imbibe? And how did those caning scars come to be on more than one of the student's backs? Jane is determined to find out, refusing to leave even when her life is in danger. Before the novel ends in November 1820, Jane learns more than she ever thought possible.
Campbell Slan does a remarkable job in imitating Jane's voice and Bronte's style. Granted, it's been a long time since I've read Jane Eyre, but the voice and style seem dead on (no pun intended). The story moves at a quick pace and readers will not easily be able to lay the story aside. The dialogue was smooth and matched the timeframe without being cloying antiquated. The details were certainly well researched.
Campbell Slan is the author of one of my favorite cozy mystery series featuring Kiki Lowenstein. Her talent shines in that she is able to trade Kiki's voice to imitate another protagonist's voice so well. Death of a Schoolgirl is the first book in the Jane Eyre Chronicles. I can't wait for Jane's next adventure.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Death of a Schoolgirl 25 Aug 2012
By Karen Pollard - Published on
I began this book thinking it couldn't possibly follow in the footsteps of Charlotte Bronte's writing, but I was pleasantly surprised. The book is excellently written and superbly detailed. Mrs. Slan uses the vocabulary of the period of time perfectly. The plot is very intrigueing and holds the interest of the reader. I began the book two days ago and am almost finished with it. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of this series when they are released. As Jane Eyre was one of my all time favorite books, I had always wished the story went on. Through Mrs. Slan, it now does.
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