Monday, 27 February 2017

Review: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Title: Jane Steele
Author: Lyndsay Faye
Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 432
Genres: Historical Fiction

Reader, I murdered him.

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?
Hmmm, I am not sure why I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would. Jane Steele is an historical fiction inspired by Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, and so I was really excited to read this book.

The main protagonist, Jane Steele, loves Jane Eyre and has read it many times because she notices how similar their lives are. Both are unwanted orphans on their aunt's estate and both are sent to a terrible boarding school; and really that is where the similarities end as Jane Steele goes on to have a radically different plot from there. Jane Steele is a murderess and she is quite good at it too, she is certainly not meek or mild, and is very cunning. Despite some similarities, I found her to be quite different from Jane Eyre and I must admit that I wanted Jane Steele to be more of a straight retelling as I adored the original.

Despite that, I was really entertained for the first half of the book but when Jane becomes starts to work as a governess for Charles Thornfield, I just lost interest. Charles is no Mr. Rochester, that's for certain. I was bored stiff by the British politics relating to the Punjab and I just found that I didn't care. I think my main problem was that I desperately wanted Jane to be more twisted than she actually was and I wanted a darker, grittier plot. I wanted something reminiscent of villains such as Johnny Depp's character in Sweeney Todd, you know, that level of depravity and murder.

Anyway, there is no doubt this is a brilliantly crafted story and the writing is of excellent quality, I think it is purely down to my personal taste that I didn't like this book quite as much as I was hoping but I would definitely be interested in picking up the author's other books.

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