Thank you G.P. Putnam’s Sons for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: March 22nd, 2016
Synopsis: Like the heroine of the novel she adores, Jane Steele suffers cruelly at the hands of her aunt and schoolmaster. And like Jane Eyre, they call her wicked–but in her case, she fears the accusation is true. When she flees, she leaves behind the corpses of her tormentors.
A fugitive navigating London’s underbelly, Jane rights wrongs on behalf of the have-nots whilst avoiding the noose. Until an advertisement catches her eye. Her aunt has died and the new master of Highgate House, Mr. Thornfield, seeks a governess. Anxious to know if she is Highgate’s true heir, Jane takes the position and is soon caught up in the household’s strange spell. When she falls in love with the mysterious Charles Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him–body, soul and secrets–and what if he discovers her murderous past?
Reader, I murdered him.
And thus begins one of the most buzzed about books so far this year, and I’m happy to say the hype is well deserved. First though, a word of caution: the novel is being called a retelling of Jane Eyre but it’s not, although there are similarities. Yes both women are orphans who are sent to bleak and miserable boarding schools and eventually become governesses, but otherwise, besides the main character sharing a first name with the fictional heroine, and being a devoted fan of the book, Jane Steele completely stands on her own as a thoroughly likable and original character which is odd as she’s described as a serial killer. I have to be honest and admit I’ve never been a huge fan of Jane Eyre, the character. Her constant attempts at self-sabotage due toward her prim sense of morality made me frustrated even though I realized she was a reflection of the time period. Actually, the description of Jane Steele as a serial killer isn’t quite true. While it’s true that Jane isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and does kill a few people throughout the book, she doesn’t do it for pleasure and each murder she commits is under extenuating circumstances. If you choose to read this I’ll let you be the judge of whether the killings are justified. Obviously Jane is quite capable of taking care of herself and is used to doing so. Once she takes the governess position at Highgate however, you see a softer and more vulnerable side. Not only does she find romance, but for the first time in her life she has people who truly care about her. But the closer she gets to Mr. Thornfield and the other inhabitants of Highgate, the more she fears they’ll discover her past. Even worse, she wrestles with the question of whether she’s wicked herself, and does she deserve forgiveness and her own happy ending. There many more things I could rave about which were in this book, but I don’t want to leak any spoilers. There are several clever plot devices that Lyndsay Faye employs including the question of why the basement of Highgate House is kept under lock and key, and why does the master of the house always wear gloves. And having Mr. Thornfield, his ward and the rest of the household come from India is simply inspired as it brings in the history of England’s colonization of that country as well as the Sikh religion. Let me just finish by saying this is one of those rare instances where I enjoyed a story more than the original classic it’s based on. Full of mystery, romance, intrigue and humor, I inhaled this over the course of one weekend. I love this so much so in fact, that I’m selfishly holding on to my copy instead of donating it to the library as I intended.