Jane Eyre is one of those books that I don’t think anyone can or should touch. So I would avoid any book that claims to be a retelling of it. The description for Jane Steele
says that it was “inspired by Charlotte Bronte’s classic Jane Eyre” but I heard/read that it was nothing like it. And I love the cover! (Yes, I judge a book by it’s cover.) So I decided to give it a shot. And I was very pleasantly surprised. In my opinion, it was more like if Jane Eyre had a knife, know how to use it, and constantly came across despicable men who treated women like garbage.
Title: Jane Steele
Author: Lyndsay Faye
A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until escaping to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement. Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess.
Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents—the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, and the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield appears far deeper and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: Can she possess him—body, soul, and secrets—without revealing her own murderous past?
A satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies, by a writer who Matthew Pearl calls “superstar-caliber” and whose previous works Gillian Flynn declared “spectacular,” Jane Steele is a brilliant and deeply absorbing book inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s classic Jane Eyre.
Let me start by saying I know murder is wrong. That being said, this is fiction and I was totally rooting for Jane Steele throughout the book as she sought vengeance on men who abused women. They had it coming. Does that make me sound crazy? *giggle*
Seriously though, I was impressed with the character Lyndsay Faye created because it’s not easy to make someone who is cold and calculating AND loving and compassionate. Jane Steele isn’t a murderess because she likes to kill. She knows she’s a woman and has no name, money, or power but she doesn’t let that stop her because she knows who she is. And no man is going to tell her (or force her) otherwise. For that, I love her for the same reasons I love Jane Eyre.