ABOUT THE BOOK:
A Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre.
Like the heroine of the novel she adores, Jane Steele suffers cruelly at the hands of her aunt and schoolmaster. And like Jane Eyre, they call her wicked - but in her case, she fears the accusation is true. When she flees, she leaves behind the corpses of her tormentors.
A fugitive navigating London's underbelly, Jane rights wrongs on behalf of the have-nots whilst avoiding the noose. Until an advertisement catches her eye. Her aunt has died and the new master at Highgate House, Mr Thornfield, seeks a governess. Anxious to know if she is Highgate's true heir, Jane takes the position and is soon caught up in the household's strange spell. When she falls in love with the mysterious Charles Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him - body, soul and secrets - and what if he discovers her murderous past?
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Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Jane Steel by Lyndsay Faye is a 2016 G. P. Putnam’s Sons publication.
There are only a few times in my life when I’ve honestly felt as though an author sat down and penned a book just for me. This is one of those times…
While marketed as a ‘retelling’ of Jane Eyre, in truth, our protagonist, Jane Steele, sees a dark parallel between her life and that of Jane Eyre, and is inspired to write her own memoir, so technically it’s not really a ‘retelling’ in the way we commonly refer to it.
But, as a huge fan of classic Gothic stories, Jane Eyre, in particular, this book literally rocked my world!!
Right away I recognized the writing style. The languorous phrases and the slow, tantalizing pace, the deliciously dark characterizations, all of which drew me right into the familiar, well loved, adored, and cherished atmosphere of the Gothic novel.
Jane Steele is vulnerable, but also has criminal, murderous tendencies. However, she never does anything out of pure malice. She loves and cares for people deeply, but literally has no qualms about taking matters into her own hands, vigilante style, not once, but multiple times.
“Though I no longer presumed to have a conscience, I have never once lacked feelings.”
Jane Steele often compares her own circumstances to those of Jane Eyre, but points out various ways Eyre lacked the chops to do what needed doing and 'wasn’t all that great of a detective'.
Moments and insights like that had me looking at the classic novel in a whole new light, all while falling hopelessly in love with this darker version of events. It was almost as if Steele was trying to right some of the Eyre’s wrongs in her parallel universe, strengthening her weaknesses, and giving her a distorted boost of girl power.
The second half of the book is where things really get interesting, as Steele quite expertly works undercover, while trying to figure out all the burning mysteries of Highgate House. I loved all the overwrought drama as an obvious ode to Gothic hysteria, written with a wry, satirical tone that expressed a deep affection for the classic genre, despite the obvious exaggerations.
But, as always, once the suspense has been built, all the secrets are unveiled, and the mysteries solved, all of which are revealed with great flourish and embellishment, at the end of the day, it’s the love story that leaves me enthralled. Will Jane get her man? Will Charles still love her once he knows her dark history?
This book is a rousing tribute to Gothic classics, cleverly constructed, exposing the dark underbelly of Victorian days, chalk full of satire and dark humor. Jane Steele walked away with my heart in her pocket. This is one of those books that, as I regretfully turned the last page, I was tempted to start it all over again from the beginning. I can’t believe it took me so long to discover this book!! It’s one of those stories that makes me want to hug the book hold it close to my heart, because it's stories like this one that reminds me of how I feel in love with reading and why.
“I hope that the epitaph of the human race when the world ends will be: here perished a species which loved to tell stories.”
This book now holds a treasured spot on my ‘favorite books of all time’ list. Five big fat stars!!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
After growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Lyndsay worked as a professional actress throughout the Bay Area for several years, nearly always in a corset, and if not a corset then at the very least heels and lined stockings. As her roles ranged from Scrooge's lost fiancée in A Christmas Carol to Lavinia DuPlessy in Andrew Lippa's world premiere of A Little Princess, whalebone prevented her from drawing a natural breath for a number of years. She is a soprano with a high pop belt, if it interests you. Her performances were generally reviewed well, with adjectives ranging from "soaring" and "delightful" to "sausage-curled."
Lyndsay and her husband, artist Gabriel Lehner, live in Queens with their cats, Grendel and Prufrock. During the few hours a day Lyndsay isn't writing or editing, she is most often cooking, or sampling new kinds of microbrew, or thinking of ways to creatively mismatch her clothing. She is a very proud member of AEA, MWA, ASH, GWN, and BSI (Actor's Equity Association, Mystery Writers of America, the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, Girls Write Now, and the Baker Street Irregulars, respectively).
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