Book Review: Jane Steele

Jane Steele
By Lyndsay Faye

Not My Edition:
Hardcover, 422 pages
2016, Putnam
ISBN: 9780399169496

Jane Steele, orphaned and cast out by her aunt, grows up first in a nightmare boarding school and then on the streets of London. She eventually finds herself back at her old family home, as a governess caring for the ward of a rich, eccentric ex-pat, and can’t help but find similarities to her life and that of her favorite fictional heroine, Jane Eyre. But Miss Steele carries a large secret that Miss Eyre likely wouldn’t understand – she’s a murderess.

This was a fun and immersive twist on the classic. I did read Jane Eyre a few years ago and reader, I was bored.

Yep, I went there and I’m not sorry.

Anyway, Faye spiced up the classic by making our heroine a murderess and an expert liar and I was rooting for her from the start. While I’m not a fan of the original, I did pick up on many of the references, and I think even those who haven’t read Jane Eyre can enjoy this mildly violent retelling if Victorian era books with murder and mystery sub-plots are their thing.

Jane didn’t blow me away as a character and she talked about her messy hair and plain face far too often. (I feel like that’s one of the most common YA tropes, but it’s irritating in adult fiction like this too.) I get it, you have low self-esteem and/or you’re not a bombshell – no need to rub it in my face every chapter! I did enjoy Jane’s relationship with her boarding school friend, Clarke. I felt like Clarke helped model and define Jane and assisted with her moral compass.

There was a mildly surprising twist at the end (personally, I fell for the misdirection and wasn’t trying to figure out the mystery on my own) and overall this was just what I wanted out of a summer read.

I think anyone who enjoyed Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, Android Karenina and the like, will probably find Jane Steele enjoyable.

If you’re interested, dear reader, I found an interesting little article Lyndsay wrote regarding what she learned when copy editing this book. You can also visit her website, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr pages.

Bonus pictures, because I actually had props in the house appropriate for the book (we go to Ren faires) and was maybe having too much fun:

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