Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

    In the bicentenary year of Charlotte Brontë's birth, it feels really appropriate to be reading stories which reference her work and which have so many echoes of it within them. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Jane Steele which reimagines elements of the story of Jane Eyre. The first thing that strikes you about the book is that it is great fun. The heroine, Jane Steele, is written with panache and vigour. With a wicked sense of humour, she turns out to be anything but passive.

    I admired how the book captured the feel of its time. Jane Steele admits in the opening pages to having read Jane Eyre and as we see, noticed that parts of their story are similar. However, Jane Steele's reactions are far from Jane Eyre's. Here we have a story in which the heroine has gone to the bad! Incorrigible, Jane Steele charms us the readers whom she addresses directly. Each chapter begins with a quote from Jane Eyre and at times, Jane Steele wonders what Jane would have done. Despite all her deeds, I found myself liking and rooting for Jane Steele.

     Lyndsay Faye writes in a style which perfectly captures the novels of the Victorian era. Jane Steele reminded me of Becky Sharp in Thackeray's Vanity Fair with her irreverence for authority and ability to scheme and survive. The period details are all there and there is a wide cast of eccentric and varied characters whom I am sure Dickens would have been proud of. The melodramatic gothic features are there to be found, from the governess figure, to the forbidding and isolated houses, although I am not sure that Jane Steele fits the bill of the defenceless young woman. I particularly appreciated Lyndsay Faye's descriptions of Victorian London, teeming with all the best and worst of humanity.

In short: Reader, I loved it!
Thanks to Caitlyn Raynor and the publishers at Headline Review for a copy of the book.


Popular Posts