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Authors: April Lindner

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BOOK: Jane
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April Lindner


New York     Boston


Copyright © 2010 by April Lindner

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.


Hachette Book Group

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Poppy is an imprint of Little, Brown and Company.

The Poppy name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

First eBook Edition: October 2010

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Lines from “Visiting Day” by Rhina P. Espaillat. Copyright © 1992 by Rhina P. Espaillat. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of the author.

ISBN: 978-0-316-12234-4

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Table of Contents

Copyright Page

Table of Contents



































When one of the recent updated versions of
Pride and Prejudice
was published, I found myself musing with my husband about why
Jane Eyre,
such a great story of love and self-discovery, didn’t seem to be getting the
Pride and Prejudice
treatment. I love
Pride and Prejudice
and its spin-offs as much as the next person, but if I had to choose between Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, I’d be on Team Charlotte. I first read
Jane Eyre
in high school, with the sense that I was encountering a kindred spirit. I loved that Jane is such a freethinker and she never takes the easy way out. As deeply as she loves Mr. Rochester, she refuses to cave in to him when he’s being unrealistic or selfish. And it doesn’t hurt that Mr. Rochester is, for my money, the sexiest guy in literature. Now that I’m an English professor, I teach
Jane Eyre
whenever I can and am always thrilled when I encounter students who take to Jane the way I did.

Given how appealing
Jane Eyre
is, my theory about the lack of sequels and updates was that some elements of Jane’s story seemed hard to bring into twenty-first-century America. These days, a young woman as bright and enterprising as Jane would have many careers to choose from. The sad fate of Mr. Rochester’s first wife is tricky to envision in our age of medical miracles. But with some thought I knew I could probably figure out a way around those roadblocks. Hardest of all would be re-creating the insurmountable class difference that has to exist between Jane and Mr. Rochester for the story to make sense.

Then it dawned on me: Mr. Rochester could be a rock star.

Right away, I knew I had to write that book. My other life’s passion (after writing and reading) is rock-and-roll music. I’ve always loved seeing live shows, and my recent obsession has been going to way too many Bruce Springsteen concerts, sometimes even traveling states away when there’s a show I just have to see. Making the Mr. Rochester character a rock legend meant dreaming up the details of how such a person might live his daily life. And the idea of putting a shy, self-contained, and serious young woman together with a notorious bad-boy rocker was just irresistible.

After that, it was a matter of puzzling out how to update the rest of the details, finding answers to questions like: What causes a nice girl like Jane to take a job as a rock star’s nanny? And, what sorts of dark secrets might a celebrity like Nico Rathburn be hiding from his public?

All in all, when I set to work on
, I felt I’d stumbled into the project I’d been born for. Once I worked out answers to the
plot’s many logistical challenges, the book practically wrote itself. Whenever I got stuck, I would open up
Jane Eyre
for inspiration and ideas. I had more fun working on it than on anything else I’ve ever written. I hope some of that fun has made its way onto these pages. And if
sends a few readers back to
Jane Eyre
to see what all the fuss is about, so much the better.

To my sister, Melody Lindner,
whose friendship and support I count on more than I can say,
and whose presence in my life makes the good days
better and the bad ones bearable.

And to my mother, Grace Lindner,
who shared with me her love of language
and books, especially
Jane Eyre

“The words she taught me are the shapes I see:
because she spoke the sun, it came to be.”
— Rhina P. Espaillat

Also, in loving memory of my father, Edward Lindner:

“I see my daddy walking through them factory gates in the rain.”
— Bruce Springsteen


The chairs in the lobby of Discriminating Nannies, Inc., were less comfortable than they looked. I sat stiffly in the one nearest the exit, where, feeling like an impostor in my gray herringbone suit from Goodwill, I could watch the competition come and go. I’d had some trouble walking up the steps from the subway in my low pumps and narrow skirt. The new shoes chafed my heels, and I had to keep reminding myself to take small steps so as not to rip the skirt’s satin lining. I dressed carefully that morning, pulling my hair away from my face with a large silver barrette, determined to look the part of a nanny — or how I imagined a nanny should look — tidy, responsible, wise.

But I had gotten it wrong. The other applicants seemed to be college girls like me. One had situated herself in the middle of the taupe sofa and was calmly reading
magazine; she wore
faded jeans and a cardigan, her red hair tousled. Another, in a full skirt and flat shoes I coveted, listened to her iPod, swaying almost imperceptibly in time to the music. But maybe they weren’t feeling as desperate as I was, acid churning in my stomach, pulse fluttering in my throat.

In my lap rested a leather portfolio containing my woefully brief résumé, my nanny-training certificate, a copy of my transcript, and nothing else. The portfolio had been a Christmas gift from my parents just a few short months ago. It was one of the last gifts they had given me before the accident. But as I waited, I couldn’t let myself dwell on how my mother had handed me the box wrapped in gold paper and, her eyes not meeting mine, how she had apologized for not knowing what sort of present I would like. I felt a pang of remorse; her tone implied the failing was mine. I’d heard it before: I was too reserved, too opaque; my interests weren’t normal for a girl my age. Still, my mother had let me give her a thank-you kiss on the cheek. She appeared relieved when I told her the portfolio was just what I would need when I finished school and went out into the world looking for a job. Of course, neither of us realized then how soon that need would arise.

“Jane Moore?”

I looked up. A thin woman with an asymmetrical black bob stood in the doorway. I jumped to my feet.
Too eager,
I chided myself.
Try not to look so desperate
. The woman quickly sized me up. I could see it in her sharp eyes and closed-mouth smile: I was dressed like a parody of a nanny, too fussily, all wrong. She introduced herself as Julie Draper, shook my hand, turned briskly, and strode through the door and down a long hallway. I hurried after her.

The narrow office held too many chairs to choose from; was this a test? I took the one closest to her desk, careful to cross my legs at the ankles and not to slouch. I handed my certificate and my résumé — proofread ten times and letter perfect — across her enormous mahogany desk. Through purple-rimmed reading glasses, she scanned it in silence. Just when I thought I had better say something, anything, she looked up.

“You would be a more attractive candidate if you had a degree. Why are you dropping out?”

“Financial need.” Though I had expected this question and rehearsed my reply, my voice caught in my throat. On the subway ride downtown, I had considered telling the whole story — how my parents had died four months ago, black ice, my father’s Saab flipping over a guardrail. How they hadn’t had much in the way of life insurance, and the stocks they left me in their will had turned out to be almost worthless. How the house had been left to my brother, and how the minute he sold it he disappeared, leaving no forwarding address, no phone number. How the spring semester that was coming to a close would have to be my last. How I’d been too depressed to plan for my future until it dawned on me that the dorms were about to close and I’d be homeless in less than a week. How the only place I had left to go would be my sister’s condo in Manhattan, and how very displeased she would be to see me on her doorstep — almost as displeased as I would be to find myself there. But I couldn’t trust my voice not to quaver, so I stayed silent.

Julie Draper looked at me awhile, as if waiting for more. Then she glanced back down at her desk. “Your grades are strong,” she said.

I nodded. “If you need more information, faculty reports for each of my classes are stapled to the back of my résumé.” My voice sounded clipped and efficient and false.

She rifled through the pages. “I see most of your classes were in art and French literature.” I waited for her to point out how hugely impractical my choices had been, but she surprised me. “That kind of training could be very attractive in a nanny. Many of our clients want caregivers who can offer cultural enrichment to their charges. A knowledge of French could be very appealing.” A pause. “And you’ve taken a couple of courses in child development. That’s a plus.”

“I’ve been babysitting since I was twelve. And I took care of one-year-old twins last summer.” Too bad I’d had to spend all my savings on textbooks and art supplies for the spring semester. “My references will tell you how reliable I am and how much their children like me. I’m strict but kind.” I paused to inhale; apparently I’d been forgetting to breathe.

Something changed in her voice. “Tell me: how do you feel about music?”

“I took violin lessons in middle school,” I answered. “I don’t really remember how to play.”

BOOK: Jane
12.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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