Review: Jane Steele

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

J.P. Putnam and Sons, 2016. Hardcover, 416 pages.Cover: Jane Steele

This novel is a unique revisioning of the classic novel Jane Eyre.  However, instead of classic Victorian-era heroine, the Jane Eyre character is reenvisioned as a serial murderess.

Jane Steele, called wicked by her aunt, grew up in a cottage near her ancestral home of Highgate Hall in England.  When two tragedies strike in a row, her aunt sends Jane off to a boarding school.  While there, Jane befriends Rebecca Clarke and does her best to survive in a cruel setting.  When it becomes too much, she does something unthinkable and commits murder.  She and Clarke flee to London where they make their living in the city’s underbelly However, trouble still follows them and Jane must use her wicked ways to help them to survive.  Then one day, Clarke learns the truth and flees.

Years later, Jane sees an advertisement for a governess at her old home, now under the ownership of the new heir, and applies.  Once hired, Jane discovers her old world changed for the heir, Charles Thornfield, grew up in India, survived two wars, and was very much influenced by the Sikh culture he practically grew up within.  His charge is a young half-English, Half-Sikh girl, Sajarah.  Along with the butler, the Sikh Sadar Singh, Jane is introduced to a new way of life and begins to fall for Charles.  However, due to the past of the two men from India, their life is fraught with trouble, all tracing its way back to a treasure lost in India.  And it is the mystery that surrounds this treasure, along with the relationships that are formed, that drive this novel.  Additionally, since Jane’s aunt tried to hide her existence, could Jane, not Charles, be the true heir?  You must read this novel to learn the answers to these two mysteries.  Additionally, will the truths lurking in Jane’s past allow her to have the relationship she wants with her employer?

Many reviews I saw on Goodreads had individuals claiming that the story lost luster for them after volume one, the part where Jane goes from childhood to murderess on the run.  However, for me, it was after that point in which the story hooked me.  As volume one ended, I was almost ready to give up reading Jane Steele.  However, the relationship between Sajarah and Jane, the budding romance between Jane and Charles Thornfield, and learning about Sikh culture from the aforementioned two plus Sadar kept me hooked.  By the end of the novel, my opinion did a one-eighty.  It helped that Jane was quite witty at times and was very much a strong woman.  Despite not seeming to be at the novel’s beginning, Jane was also loyal to those she loved.  It is worth giving this novel a try.

Since this novel has been out since April, have you read it?  If so, what did you think?  If not, do you think you will give this novel a try?

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