I recently read Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye, a Jane Eyre retelling. While I did enjoy the book, I felt it paled in comparison to Bronte’s Jane. It was supposed to be a retelling of one of my favorite classics, and in my mind, no book can fill shoes that big. I know it was unfair of me to compare the two, but its being billed as a “retelling” kept throwing me off and making it hard for me to really settle into the novel. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely liked this book. I just didn’t love it.
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Gothic, Historical Fiction
Narrator: Susie Riddell
Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
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A reimagining of Jane Eyre as a gutsy, heroic serial killer. 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 escaping 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. 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, and the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield appears far deeper 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? A satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies.
a silver-tongued slayer, a mysterious morgue-man, and an irascible Indian
What I liked:
- The writing was A+. Wonderfully written. I have ZERO complaints. (As I listened to the audiobook, I should mention that the narrator was also fantastic.)
- Jane Steele herself was a very fun take on Jane Eyre. The peripheral characters were also well developed and blended seamlessly within the world that Faye created.
What I didn’t like:
- The plot bored me a little bit. I guess I knew where everything was headed because of it being billed as a Jane Eyre retelling. Nothing took me much by surprise. Of course there were little twists and turns that were somewhat fun, but since some of the plot bordered on the thriller/mystery genre (I don’t like those genres much), I didn’t find it very exciting.
Would highly recommend to anyone who loves Jane Eyre, but just don’t go into it thinking it will be the same (like my stupid brain did). It’s a very fun take on the story.
Before you go, let’s talk about retellings.
I do enjoy retellings, as they often allow us to experience some of our favorite stories with fun variations. I have read more retellings than I probably realize, and some of my most enjoyable reads have been retellings (The Star-Touched Queen, A Court of Thorns and Roses, & Heartless). That being said, I do think authors need to tread lightly around the original story to ensure they’re not coming too close lest we start to compare the two.
Do you enjoy retellings? What are some of your favorites? Have you read retellings that bored you, because they were a little too similar to the story they were inspired by?