Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

  • jane steele (putnam)Title:  Jane Steele
  • Author:  Lyndsay Faye
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction; Mystery
  • Pages:  422
  • Published:  March 2016 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Reader, I murdered him.  So begins Lyndsay Faye’s Jane Steele.

A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until she escapes to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement. Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess for the nine-year-old ward in his care.

Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents – the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose connection with Mr. Thornfield appears far more complicated and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him – body, soul, and secrets – without revealing her own murderous past?

Inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s classic, Jane Steele is a brilliant and deeply absorbing satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies.  (book flap)

My take:  Well, Readers, I loved it! Jane Steele is way outside of my normal reading zone but I was intrigued when offered a copy for review so I accepted. I’m so glad I did because it was such a fun read. It’s filled with drama, adventure, class differences, love and mystery culminating in an exciting denouement that seemed only fitting for Jane’s story.

There are references, subtle and pointed, to Jane Eyre (Jane Steele’s favorite book) that will hopefully make fans of the Brontë novel smile. It has been decades since I read it but now I’m tempted to do a reread. Thank you, Lyndsay Faye!

I appreciated the author’s historical afterward which points the reader to other books that helped to inform Jane Steele’s plot lines. Recommended to fans of Victorian novels, historical mysteries, Jane Eyre, and a good adventure. I’d also recommend Jane Steele to book clubs who want to shake things up a bit 🙂

Note: In addition to reading this book I used an Audible credit so I could keep listening when I couldn’t sit and read. Narrator Susie Riddell’s performance is perfection. Highly recommended!


 

More Praise for JANE STEELE:

 

“Let’s be honest here.  When I was sent an advanced readers’ copy of Jane Steele, which was billed as an historical crime novel with a Jane-Eyre-style heroine who becomes a serial killer, I thought someone was pulling my leg.  I decided to read ten pages, just to annoy myself as I’m often inclined to do.  Also, to show what a good sport I am.  I was hooked by page five and read my way through at a merry clip.

I loved this book!  The language rings true, the period details are correct.  Jane Steele is a joy, both plucky and rueful in her assessment of her dark deeds.

The plotting is solid and the pacing sublime.  If this were a series, this would be the perfect introduction.  As a stand-alone, I give it an A+”

—Sue Grafton

 

“Lyndsay Faye pulls off the most elusive feat of historical fiction: to give us a book that reads as though it was unearthed from a perfectly preserved antique chest.

Sneakily charming and wildly well written, like Faye’s other novels Jane Steele demands attention.”

—Matthew Pearl, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer

 

Jane Steele is lethal good fun!  In Jane, Lyndsay Faye has created a heroine unwilling to suffer tyrants or fools.

The result is a darkly humorous, elegantly crafted story of an ‘accidental’ vigilante. A delicious read.”

—Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist

 

“From the gasp-inducing moment Jane Steele utters the words ‘reader, I murdered him,’ you know you are in for a rollicking romp of an adventure that recasts the Jane Eyre story in an entirely new light.

But mixed in with the verve and vivacity is a story of real heart, exemplary, near-forgotten history, and an utterly unforgettable heroine.

Brava to Lyndsay Faye for what’s already one of my favorite thrillers of the year.”

—Sarah Weinman, editor of Women Crime Writers:Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s

 

“Enchanting.  Jane Steele is beautifully rendered and utterly captivating, from the first cry of

‘reader, I murdered him’ to its final pages.  Lyndsay Faye is a masterful storyteller, and this is her finest tale yet.’

—Maria Konnikova, New York Times-bestselling author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

 

#FitReaders Weekly Check-in: Jan. 17, 2015 (and a brief review)

FitReaders2015Fitbit steps:

  • Sat:    6,115
  • Sun:   5,517
  • Mon:  11,021
  • Tues:  11,870
  • Wed:  12,237
  • Thur:  11,574
  • Fri:  13,371

All treadmill exercise this week. I keep meaning to add some resistance training but somehow never get around to it. Maybe next week…  In addition to finishing The Martian I also completed One Wish and Hearth Stone.


 

  • the martian (audible)Title: The Martian: A Novel
  • Author:  Andy Weir
  • Narrator:  R.C. Bray
  • Genre:  SciFi; Thriller
  • Published:   2014 by Crown
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis:  Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him? (publisher)

My brief take:  I read/listened via whisper sync (Kindle/Audible). RC Bray’s narration is perfect and made the book almost unputdownable (yep, I used that word).

I was totally out of my reading comfort zone when I picked up this book and now I’d recommend it to anyone. At the end, when certain characters were pacing, I was up and pacing with them. The Martian is interesting, funny, thrilling and a great read. That’s all I’m going to say. Except, if you haven’t read it put it on your list!

It’s no surprise The Martian was voted Best Science Fiction book in the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards. It was also a 2014 Audie Award Finalist, Science Fiction. Highly recommended.

Note: At the end of the book (but not the audiobook) there’s a Reader’s Guide and an Author Q&A. My Kindle edition also has an essay by Andy Weir: How Science made Me a Writer. Not sure if that’s in the paper edition. Anyone?

Audiobook catch up

a hundred summers

  • Title:  A Hundred Summers 
  • Author:  Beatriz Williams
  • Narrator: Kathleen McInerney
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction; Romance
  • Published:  May 2013 – Penguin Audio
  • Length:  11 hours 35 minutes
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis:  Memorial Day, 1938: New York socialite Lily Dane has just returned with her family to the idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island, expecting another placid summer season among the familiar traditions and friendships that sustained her after heartbreak.

That is, until Greenwalds decide to take up residence in Seaview.

Nick and Budgie Greenwald are an unwelcome specter from Lily’s past: her former best friend and her former fiancee, now recently married – an event that set off a wildfire of gossip among the elite of Seaview, who have summered together for generations. Budgie’s arrival to restore her family’s old house puts her once more in the center of the community’s social scene, and she insinuates herself back into Lily’s friendship with an overpowering talent for seduction… and an alluring acquaintance from their college days, Yankees pitcher Graham Pendleton. But the ties that bind Lily to Nick are too strong and intricate to ignore, and the two are drawn back into long-buried dreams, despite their uneasy secrets and many emotional obligations.

Under the scorching summer sun, the unexpected truth of Budgie and Nick’s marriage bubbles to the surface, and as a cataclysmic hurricane barrels unseen up the Atlantic and into New England, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional cyclone of their own, which will change their worlds forever.  (publisher)

My brief take:  Beatriz Williams’ story of wealthy people and soap-like drama was a good beach read. I love the era. It was  post-1929 crash and pre-WWII which encompassed financial difficulties, prejudice, and people ignoring much of what was happening in the rest of the world. Add in the personal issues of failed friendships, betrayal, a broken engagement and an uncomfortable summer season that brings Budgie, Nick and Lily back together and you’ve got a juicy story. I enjoyed listening to A Hundred Summers. Kathleen McInerney’s narration was top notch.

*  *  *

the firebird

  • Title:  The Firebird
  • Author:  Susanna Kearsley
  • Narrator:  Katherine Kellgren
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction; Paranormal; Time Travel
  • Published:  January 2013 – Audible, Inc.
  • Length:  14 hours 39 minutes
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis:  Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes glimpses those who have owned it before. When a woman arrives with a small wooden carving at the gallery Nicola works at, she can see the object’s history and knows that it was named after the Firebird – the mythical creature from an old Russian fable.
Compelled to know more, Nicola follows a young girl named Anna who leads her into the past on a quest through the glittering backdrops of the Jacobites and Russian courts, unearthing a tale of love, courage, and redemption.  (publisher)

My brief take:  I enjoyed this follow up (continuation) to The Winter Sea. I’m a fan of these adventures Susanna Kearsley takes us on. I rate it 4.5 stars and the fantastic narration by Katherine Kellgren moves it up to 5 stars.

I also followed the Kindle edition from time to time. An added bonus of the print book are the author’s notes at the end. Kearsley answered questions I’d had in mind while reading such as what is historically accurate and what is filled in to connect dots. I always wonder about those things while reading historical fiction. I don’t care what the answers are if the story grabs me – something that is never a problem with Kearsley’s novel. Like I mentioned, I’m a fan!

This book is part of the Slains series and I realized too late that I was reading them out of order. No matter, I have The Shadowy Horses on my shelf and look forward to reading it. Can’t wait to meet the sigh-worthy Rob from the beginning 🙂