REVIEW: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
SYNOPSIS: “Reader, I murdered him.”
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?
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Retelling
RATING: ★★★★☆/ 4 WONDERFUL stars!
REVIEW: i will admit to buying this book mostly as a "cover buy" because, I mean, look at it! That cover is just so cool. It was a bit hard to pass it up. And then I read the synopsis and I found a murderous Jane Eyre rather intriguing. So...Reader, I bought it!
If you've never read Bronte's Jane Eyre, fear not, because neither have I and it isn't a necessary precursor to reading this novel. I do know the general story of Jane Eyre, however, so the big and small references popped out at me throughout the pages. But beyond that, Faye leads you through the book by the hand, thoughtfully heading each chapter with Jane Eyre passages and having our heroine make references to the character she identifies with when appropriate. It's all wonderfully clear and incredibly smart.
The beginning of the novel was, not quite slow, but merely enjoyable. All through Ms. Steele's adolescence you can just feel bigger things on the horizon, so you're a little anxious for the story to really take off. At the end of Jane's stay with the boarding school is when the story truly reached it's flow for me. At that point I couldn't put the book down. I read long into the night, in fact, because it was just that good.
The prose was perfect, with a nod to the great English writers of 1800's, but without going overboard and becoming comically fake. It was actually very modern. The story line kept the best of the original and added a strong dose of murder and feminism. On top of all of that is lovingly explored relationships of many varieties which keep us arrestingly involved with all of the characters. Sounds great right? That's because it is!
This book surprised me in all the very best ways and I definitely recommend it. In fact, it wasn't two minutes after i finished the book sometime after midnight, that I started messaging a friend telling her she needed to read this book. If I had more phone numbers to send this message to I would, but I don't, so this review will have to do.