Book Review: Jane Steele

Title: Jane Steele

Author: Lyndsay Faye

Tagline: A Gothic version of Jane Eyre

Setting: Victorian England

Themes: Crime, Redemption, Love, Sacrifice, Justice, Revenge, Retribution

You’ve heard it before – Jane is an orphan. She’s tormented by a cousin and an aunt, then sent to a messed up boarding school, where they’re kept on short rations and tormented by a cruel schoolmaster. She leaves and gets a post as a governess in an unconventional household.

Sounds pretty familiar, right?  But the details are quite different. Her mother is alive at the beginning of the book, her best friend survives school, and oh yeah – Jane Steele kills people.

She starts by shoving her abusive cousin into a ravine. That was more an instinct than premeditated murder, and she was pretty young. But having gotten off to a violent start, Jane makes a habit of removing the obstacles in her life.

All this was very entertaining. I’m not saying I’d be thrilled to have her as a neighbor, but it was a fun story. Once Jane takes a job as a governess, though, things slow way down. The writer tries to keep things lively by throwing in the East India Company and missing jewels, but it still wound up way too slow compared to the first half.

[Spoiler]

The love story was a little incredible too. Sure, I can buy that he could love her governess persona, but when she confesses all? Doubtful.

Overall, I’d say it’s worth reading mostly for the first half. I also liked the writing and all the Jane Eyre quotes at each chapter. Give this one a try, but don’t feel you have to rush to find it.

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