A thrill ride of a novel. A must read for lovers of"Jane Eyre," dark humor, and mystery. Read more...
A thrill ride of a novel. A must read for lovers of"Jane Eyre," dark humor, and mystery.
Reader, I murdered him.
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, by a writer who Matthew Pearl calls superstar-caliber and whose previous works Gillian Flynn declared spectacular, "Jane Steele" is a brilliant and deeply absorbing book inspired by Charlotte Bronte s classic "Jane Eyre.""
From our buyer, Margaret Terwey: "The life of Jane Steele in nineteenth-century England parallels that of Jane Eyre. The key difference comes with Eyre's famed declaration: Reader, I married him. In this entertaining riff on the classic, that line becomes: Reader, I murdered him."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-02-15
- Reviewer: Staff
Set in Victorian England, this intriguing tribute to Jane Eyre from Edgar-finalist Faye (The Gods of Gotham), reimagines Charlotte Brontë’s heroine as a killer. “Of all my many murders, committed for love and for better reasons, the first was the most important,” the eponymous narrator notes in the captivating opening. That killing was in self-defense, Jane explains after admitting she has ambivalent feelings about Jane Eyre, which she has read over and over again. At age nine, Jane fights off the advances of her creepy 13-year-old cousin, Edwin Barbary, who winds up at the bottom of a ravine with a broken spine. She succeeds in selling Edwin’s subsequent death as an accident, but her aunt ships her off to a Dickensian boarding school, run by a sadistic headmaster who puts his charges through a daily reckoning that ends with most of them going without food. The arresting narrative voice is coupled with a plot that Wilkie Collins fans will relish. Author tour. Agent: Erin Malone, William Morris Endeavor. (Apr.)
A BrontÃ« bicentennial
It’s hard to name a novel more beloved than Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Billed as one of the first feminist love stories, it has inspired countless sighs from lovers of literature over the centuries.
April 21, 2016, marks the 200th anniversary of Brontë’s birth, and two timely new releases honor Charlotte and her family’s enduring legacy. Though these two books have very different tones and approaches, their shared affection for the Brontës unites them.
The setup of Catherine Lowell’s debut novel, The Madwoman Upstairs, is an English major’s fantasy come true. Heroine Samantha Whipple is an awkward bookworm who heads off to Oxford University to read literature—and just happens to be the Brontës’ last living descendent. As she butts heads with her brooding-yet-irresistible tutor, a mysterious package from her deceased father arrives. Suddenly Sam is on a scavenger hunt that promises to lead her to her inheritance: items belonging to the Brontë estate that Sam has always considered nothing but a rumor . . . until now.
Crammed with myriad allusions to the entire Brontë clan’s canon, Lowell’s novel will appeal not only to Brontë megafans, but also to readers who like a healthy helping of literary criticism alongside their fiction. When Sam isn’t off solving her father’s cryptic clues, she’s arguing with her professor about how to correctly read literature in general—and the Brontës’ works in particular.
Filled with hyperlexic ripostes and an academic heroine who is the dictionary definition of quirky, this is a story that will please readers of Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics.
Lyndsay Faye’s Jane Steele is a very different form of tribute. Just a few pages in, Faye’s Jane utters the line, “Reader, I murdered him,” which tells you exactly the kind of book you are in for. A somewhat satirical riff on Jane Eyre, the novel reimagines Brontë’s iconic heroine with not only a will of iron but also the heart of a hot-blooded killer. This Jane embraces her “wicked” side and isn’t afraid to avenge herself against those who do her wrong. (Watch out, teachers at Lowood.)
Readers worried that Jane Steele is simply a retread of Jane Eyre with more blood and gore, à la Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, fear not. Just when you think you know what is coming next, Jane Steele takes things in a completely different direction. Faye is also the author of four acclaimed historical mysteries, and she juxtaposes a textured Victorian setting with more modern (and thus, more ambiguous) morality. Jane Steele is equal parts irreverent and refreshing. It’s also, remarkably, no less of a page-turner than the classic to which it pays homage.