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Jane Steele

posted by: June 20, 2016 - 7:00am

Cover art for Jane SteeleJane Eyre is not the most charming of classic literary heroines. Readers who love her are die-hard fans, and readers who don’t are baffled that she has fans at all. Lindsay Faye’s new book Jane Steele breathes fresh life into this complex classic character. While Faye’s heroine loves Bronte’s classic novel, and even faces some similar experiences as the original Jane, her response to these circumstances makes her a heroine modern readers will swoon for, regardless of how they feel about her namesake. While Faye may borrow a few plot points from Bronte, this is not a retelling of Jane Eyre.

 

Jane Steele is orphaned and left in the care of an aunt who seems to despise her. Jane is sent to a horrendous boarding school where girls are starved and humiliated. While Eyre accepted these trials as part of her lot, Steele takes matters into her own hands. She begins her story by telling us, “Of all my many murders, committed for love and for better reasons, the first was the most important." This Jane is a kind of vigilante, righting the wrongs of society.

 

After abruptly leaving Lowan Bridge School, then surviving and even thriving on some of London’s less savory streets, she finds a governess position at a large estate owned by Mr. Charles Thornfield. At Highgate House, she finds an intriguing cast of characters. Thornfield, recently returned to England after years serving in the Punjab, seems to be harboring secrets. His entire household, including his charming young ward, are all Sikhs, and in this exotic and strange new household Jane feels more at home than she ever has before.

 

This newfound happiness is jeopardized when she finds herself falling in love with her employer, even as she tries to hide her own unsavory past. And, can she say for certain she will never murder again?

 

This homicidal heroine, and her confessional style narrative will captivate readers. Fans should also check out The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell, Tracy Chevalier’s Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre and Nelly Dean: A Return to Wuthering Heights by Alison Case.

 


 
 

Megan, have you read Re Jane? If so, how did this compare to that? Because I am one of those Jane Eyre fans, and I didn't like Re Jane very much at all, so I'm not sure whether to try this or not!

I haven't read Re Jane yet. I am usually skeptical of modern retellings as well, but I did like this book in it's own right. It doesn't try to recreate the beloved classic, it just borrows some of the circumstances from the story and the epistolary form. The narrator makes a couple passing mentions to Jane Eyre, but usually only to point out how Jane would have handled a situation totally differently. Overall, I think it is worth a try.



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Revised: June 20, 2016