Title: Jane Steele
Author: Lyndsay Faye
Genre: historical mystery
Length: 416 pages
Where Bethany’s Copy Came from: IndyPL
Plot Basics: Jane Steele’s life resemble that of her favorite novel heroine, Jane Eyre, in spooky ways. But Jane’s life differs in a key place — she’s a murderer. Rejected from her inheritance, Jane makes her way through English boarding schools and the slums of London until she ends up taking a position as governess at her familial home. It’s now owned by Charles Thornfield and a cadre of Sikhs and a trail of a mystery reaching all the way back to Punjab through the East India Company.
Banter Points: I learned so much about the East India Company and the presence of the British in India. Usually, I equate novels in this time with that dottering mention of an Army man being sent to the subcontinent. But I like how Faye the actual events bloody and traumatic and not just a quaint posting where there are elephants.
Also, this book has a really great theme for girls about not being defined by what you think others perception of you will be. Jane suffers imposter syndrome most of the book and deals with that beautifully in the end.
Bummer Points: Reader, a confession: I have not read Jane Eyre. (Ducks for hail of disbelieving taunts and gasps). Gothic novels are not my thing. I’ve seen the movie and I’ve read Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair twice. But I haven’t read the actual book. At the beginning, I felt desperately out of touch, trying to remember the beginning to little avail. As the book went on, it felt like my needing to know Jane Eyre to get the plot of Jane Steele diminished, but it was disheartening at first.
Word Nerd Recommendation: I like Faye’s Timothy Wilde trilogy better, but this is still a solid book. If you like actual gothic novels, you really should her modern take.