Jane Steele // A Book Which Was An Homage To The Original And For Me So Much Better

16 June 2016

Published: 22nd March 2016
Source: Publisher (Headline Review)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Retelling
My Rating:
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?
I read this book as a part of buddy read with Danya at Fine Print and I am eternally grateful to her for asking me to do that. I got a free copy of the book from the publisher for review, but once I received it I allowed doubts to creep into my mind over reading it. Basically, thank you for Headline for sending me the copy and thank you Danya for getting me to read it because what a book!

So, Is It A Jane Eyre Retelling Or Not?

The reason I was so hesitant about the reading the book is the fact it is a ‘gothic retelling’ of Jane Eyre. I am sorry to tell you all that I have never managed to finish Jane Eyre. I have tried many a time because it is my best friend’s favourite book, but I simply cannot get past Jane beginning at that school she attended. I found it impossible to connect with her and began to doubt I would enjoy this book because of my inability to finish Jane Eyre. Thankfully, that was not the case.

One thing I did question throughout the book, though, is was it really a retelling? I mean, if anything this was an homage to the book. Our main character, Jane Steele, had actually read the book Jane Eyre and continually referenced it throughout the book. It was almost like it was honouring the original story and mirroring it in the story of Jane Steele, but also modernising and adapting it to fit a modern audience, and also accommodating for the fact that our heroine is a bit of a serial killer (just a touch, though).

How Does A Story About A Murderer Make Such An Emotional Read?

One thing I did wonder is how on earth did so many people rave about a book where out main character begins by announcing herself to be a murderer? It’s simple, really, Jane Steele is the most amazing character and she is so well written. Add into that a supporting cast of characters who are both likable and also villainous, perfectly fitting into the role cast for them, and you have a magic book.

I utterly adored Jane. As soon as I was a few chapters in and I had found my connection with her and began to understand her path of murder. I couldn’t help but like this stubborn girl who doesn’t know when to keep her mouth shut, but then wraps herself in so many secrets because she is scared no one will lover her if she lets them in.

It’s not just Jane you find yourself adoring, though, it’s every character in this book. I adored Clarke, Charles Thornfield, Sahjara, Mr Singh and Sam Quillfeather, they were amazing in their own ways. I would regale you with their wonders... but I don't want to spoil the story for you. I adored the heroes and the villains in this book in equal measure as they were all utterly fitting to the roles which they were playing.

Why Did I Love It And Why Should You Read?

This is a book where you are continually surprised by the characters, but also by the story itself. Throughout the book, you could see Lyndsay Faye had created this novel with a lot of thought. Things which happened later in the book referenced back to the beginning and you find things happening which you never expected. I adored the twists in this story and the way you grow attached to these characters.

This is a story about a killer, but it is far more than that and it’s interesting to see how Jane became the character she is and the path she will continue on. It’s a book you will not be able to put down and I strongly recommend it to everyone.

Have you read Jane Steele, what did you think? And have you read Jane Eyre because I would love to know how it compared? Are retellings always a retelling, or they sometimes an homage to the original, or both?
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