In recent years, I have looked less favorably upon Jane Eyre than when I first read it in high school. I think that is owing largely to being disillusioned with Mr. Rochester’s douchiness. But when The Chancellor told me that there was an adaptation featuring a half-Korean, half-American young woman, I was highly intrigued.
Re Jane is the story of orphan Jane Re, a young woman straddling several cultures. After graduating from a smallish college and being rejected for a job at Lowood, a financial institution, Jane feels stuck working at her uncle Sang’s grocery store. On a whim, she applies for an au pair job in Brooklyn, where she works for Beth Mazer and Ed Farley and their daughter Devon. Drawn to their intellectual academic environment, as well as Devon’s precocious affections, Jane finds herself settled in at their home. Until her attraction to Ed leads to a series of events that cause her to flee to Korea to try and find herself in another way. At some point, though, she has to decide who she is and where she will situate herself. The story of Jane’s self-actualization is thrilling and rewarding in ways that the original novel could not possibly hope to articulate in the 1830s.
I enjoyed this novel immensely. Park’s depiction of cross-cultural identities is poignant and pointed all at once. Jane is an interesting character, who, while occasionally suffering from indecision and bad choices, is thrilling to read about and root for. The descriptions of various cultures in a 9/11 era world is interesting and accurate–I was drawn into the backdrops that Park set for her characters, and I felt like the characters were real and flawed. I highly recommend it.