Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Jane Steele ~ Lyndsay Faye

Faye, Lindsay. 2016. Jane Steele. New York: G. P. Putnam & Sons. 
$27.00 USD.  ISBN: 9781472217554.  

It’s been a long time since I read Jane Eyre, so I cannot speak to how closely Lyndsay Faye’s new novel follows the structure of that classic novel, but it is very clear that Jane Steele is an adaptation, with a twist: Jane’s actions in the book point toward psychopathic tendencies – she’s a murderess.  I was intrigued, and a little nervous, about reading this book, because I wasn’t sure how the author would portray the protagonist, based on the description.  However, it soon becomes clear that Jane only murders bad people, typically men who are abusive to people she cares about.  The fact that she cares for so many of the people she encounters in the novel lead me to realize that Jane isn’t really a psychopath at all, but a tool for vengeance in a time when justice, especially for women, was rare.  The story follows her early years, banishment to a cruel boarding school, homelessness, brief employment writing the last words of executed prisoners, to finally working incognito as a governess at the estate Jane was supposed to inherit from her family.  I enjoyed reading this Jane’s story, but the introduction of Jane Steele’s familiarity with the actual Jane Eyre novel seems out of place to the narrative.  It’s a fine adaptation, but reading that Jane Steele is a fan of the novel Jane Eyre brought a discordant feeling to this reader. Other than that one negative, I enjoyed getting to know Jane Steele, who survives a childhood of horrors, but gets her revenge in the end. Other Jane Eyre adaptations I’ve come across recently are Ironskin by Tina Connolly, a historical fantasy, a YA title called simply Jane by April Lindner and last year’s Re Jane by Patricia Park.

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