New Read: Jane Steele


I had heard wonderful things about the Charlotte Brontë inspired Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye and I thought it sounded just my cup-of-tea. The lovely Lynn from Lynn’s Book Blog thought I would love it too so kindly sent me her copy!

Jane Steele, like the heroine of her favourite novel Jane Eyre, is orphaned at a young age, suffers at the hands of her spoilt cousin, her cold aunt and her vindictive schoolmaster, watches young friends die at school and finally becomes a governess in an isolated house with a capricious master and a big secret. However, this is where the similarities end because Steele is a very different creature to Eyre. Whilst Eyre wrote ‘Reader I married him’ – Steele writes ‘Reader I murdered him’!

While I thought Jane Eyre was a beautifully written gothic tale, I really struggled with the self-deprecating character of Jane herself. So I was intrigued to find out how, the author of this book, Lyndsay Faye’s twist on Jane’s character would play out. I am happy to say I loved her twist on this classic character. Steele, while not beautiful, is a striking and intelligent woman who has never stood for any nonsense; even as a child. Whilst the cruel upbringing and many mistreatments turned Eyre to faith instead the same experience sees Steele become stronger, more cunning and steely. Both were accused of being wicked but Steele knows that in her case, this is true.

When I first picked this book up, I made a slow start as I found the language rather convoluted and disjointed which hindered me getting into the flow of the story – the book also has a slow, steady pace to it so it takes a while to get anywhere. However, once Steele returned to Highgate House I found myself completely swept away! I was fascinated with this isolated, cold house’s transformation with colourful, exotic furnishings; the spicy, rich food; deadly secrets and mysterious goings-on in the basement; and the new, unusual inhabitants, including: Mr Thornfield, his ward Sahjara, the butler Mr Singh and other Sikh servants. All previous problems with style were forgiven and forgotten.

Overall, I found Jane Steele to be a refreshing and cool twist on Jane Eyre with a beautifully described setting; an interesting cast of characters and a gripping mystery. Great read.

Have you read this? How did you think it compared to Jane Eyre?

10 Books of Summer – 8/10


14 thoughts on “New Read: Jane Steele

  1. What you say about the slowness and then the plot gets good reminds me of how I found Jane Eyre, the slow dreary start, the pacing picking up when she leaves the school. Sounds kind of fitting. Love the change of line!

    Glad to read your review. I’ll keep a look out for it.

    1. Charlie, I had never thought that perhaps the slow start and explosion of action might be reflecting the original – that’s a great idea! I hope you are able to give this book a go – it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on it 🙂

  2. I haven’t this yet, but I want to. Although I’m not a super huge Jane Eyre fan…I thought it would be fun to see the story from another side.

  3. Glad you enjoyed it – it does seem to be a book that people either love the first or the second half more from the reviews I’ve read. So pleased that you liked it though.
    Lynn 😀

  4. I’m glad you enjoyed this! I read it a few months ago and had the opposite experience – I preferred the first half to the second, though I can’t remember why.

    1. Thank you Helen 🙂 It is not so much I didn’t enjoy the first half of the novel but the niggles I had with the writing style just seemed a bit more obvious. The second half of the novel really played into my tastes 😀

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