Jane re-invented (wildly and cleverly)

A review of Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Lyndsay Faye, writer of the excellent Timothy Wilde mysteries set in 19th century NYC, has something new for her fans (and their numbers will grow with this book, I predict). Her new novel is a historical one to be sure, but it's also an homage to Jane Eyre - if Jane Eyre killed the people who did her wrong instead of just silently suffering.

Though this is described in the blurb as a retelling of Jane Eyre, the author really makes the story her own. Jane Steele suffers cruelly at the hands of relatives and a schoolmaster (a truly evil man), but unlike her literary forebear, Jane takes action; drastic, final action. You see Jane is what I'd call an accidental vigilante. Not a serial killer, per se, but someone who does what has to be done when necessary. If this sounds grim, it's truly not. Jane is clever and funny even at her darkest moments and the steps she takes to survive are all rather understandable, I promise. 

Her adventures take her from her childhood home to a torturous boarding schoo and then into London's underbelly, where she uses her wits to make a living. And, inevitabley, she heads back to Highgate House when she learns that the new owner is looking for a governess. Jane needs to know if Highgate was meant to be hers and if so, how she can reclaim her inheritance. Along the way she has to fight falling in love with her new boss, Charles Thornfield. Love is not the way to survival.

Faye has clearly done her research into the time period, and captures the tone of a 19th century novel perfectly (one leavened with sharp humor and dark pathos). Can't wait to see what this remarkable writer does next.


Thanks for this! I enjoy sharp humor and dark pathos. I'm on the hold list, now, and can't wait.