- 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+”
“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