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Jane Steele Hardcover – March 22, 2016
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Nominated for a Macavity Award--Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Novel
Part of NPR’s Guide to 2016’s Great Reads
An Amazon Best Book of 2016 So Far (June, 2016)
“Witty and exquisitely plotted, this is such a delectable treat ‘tis a pity it has to end.”
“[Jane Steele’s] crimes are wonderfully entertaining.”
—The New York Times Book Review
"An entertaining riff on Jane Eyre...sheer mayhem meets Victorian propriety."
"Jane Eyre gets a dose of Dexter. In a story that's equal parts romance, thriller, and satire, the Brontë heroine is made over into a fighter with a shadowy past."
“A thrill ride of a novel. A must read for lovers of Jane Eyre, dark humor, and mystery.”
“Delectable…Bronte fans and unfamiliar readers alike will be sucked into Jane's rich story, filled with love and secrets a plenty. This book will take you on a dark and unforgettable journey.”
“Jane Steele is the hard-edged Jane Eyre you never knew you wanted…A Jane Eyre for our age, with a heroine who can wield both a knife and a well-placed insult. That her crimes are endearing instead of alienating is both a tribute to Faye’s deceptively charming style and to Jane’s sturdy yet pliant moral code. Who could begrudge a few casualties when you’re having this much fun?”
“This book scratched all my favorite itches: Victoriana, feminist rage, and excellent, gut-punch sentences. You’ll love this Jane just as much as you love the original.”
"Faye’s skill at historical mystery was evident in her nineteenth-century New York trilogy, but this slyly satiric stand-alone takes her prowess to new levels. A must for Brontë devotees; wickedly entertaining for all."
—Booklist (starred review)
“Young Jane Steele’s favorite book, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, mirrors her life both too little and too much…In an arresting tale of dark humor and sometimes gory imagination, Faye has produced a heroine worthy of the gothic literature canon but reminiscent of detective fiction.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“Let’s be honest here. When I was sent an advanced readers’ copy of JANE STEELE, which was billed as an historical crime novel with a Jane-Eyre-style heroine who becomes a serial killer, I thought someone was pulling my leg. I decided to read ten pages, just to annoy myself as I’m often inclined to do. Also, to show what a good sport I am. I was hooked by page five and read my way through at a merry clip. I loved this book! The language rings true, the period details are correct. Jane Steele is a joy, both plucky and rueful in her assessment of her dark deeds. The plotting is solid and the pacing sublime. If this were a series, this would be the perfect introduction. As a stand-alone, I give it an A+”
—Sue Grafton, #1 New York Times–bestselling author
"This is a wonderfully wicked book. The deadly first chapter actually made me gasp. Jane Steele is a character you will not soon forget. Great evil fun!"
—R.L. Stine, author of Goosebumps and Fear Street
Lyndsay Faye pulls off the most elusive feat of historical fiction: to give us a book that reads as though it was unearthed from a perfectly preserved antique chest. Sneakily charming and wildly well written, like Faye's other novels JANE STEELE demands attention.
—Matthew Pearl, New York Times–bestselling author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer
"I’ve just read the next best thing…Enhanced by truly original and poetic turns of phrase...throughout its compelling narrative, Jane Steele pleas for a comfortable chair, a crackling fireplace, and an ideal adult beverage to guarantee a thoroughly pleasurable winter evening."
--Otto Penzler, Owner of The Mysterious Bookshop
“JANE STEELE is lethal good fun! In Jane, Lyndsay Faye has created a heroine unwilling to suffer tyrants or fools. The result is a darkly-humorous, elegantly-crafted story of an "accidental" vigilante. A delicious read.”
--Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist
"Enchanting. JANE STEELE is beautifully rendered and utterly captivating, from the first cry of "reader, I murdered him" to its final pages. Lyndsay Faye is a masterful storyteller, and this is her finest tale yet."
—Maria Konnikova, New York Times–bestselling author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes
"JANE STEELE is the book I never knew I always wanted to read. Gripping, twisty, and fiendishly clever, JANE STEELE picks you up by the throat and never lets you go, taking you on an exhilaratingly wild ride. I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in ages--the only thing it left me wanting was MORE Jane Steele!"
—Deanna Raybourn, New York Times–bestselling author of A Curious Beginning
"From the gasp-inducing moment Jane Steele utters the words "reader, I murdered him", you know you are in for a rollicking romp of an adventure that recasts the Jane Eyre story in an entirely new light. But mixed in with the verve and vivacity is a story of real heart, exemplary, near-forgotten history, and an utterly unforgettable heroine. Brava to Lyndsay Faye for what's already one of my favorite thrillers of the year."
—Sarah Weinman, editor of Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s
“Add Jane Steele to that club of unforgettable antiheroes—Tom Ripley, Hannibal Lecter, and Dexter Morgan—who do dreadful things to bad people. Bold, inventive, and charmingly wicked, this instantly addictive novel pays homage to Jane Eyre while being wholly original. Lyndsay Faye has created a masterpiece.”
—Hilary Davidson, Anthony Award–winning author of Blood Always Tells
“Jane Steele is a bold and imaginative undertaking — wickedly entertaining and exquisitely unique in its execution…With thrills, mystery and romance, the story is striking and imaginative as we see how Brontë’s Jane Eyre gives meaning to Jane’s acts. Dark, satirical humor coupled with sharp dialogue make this a novel that’s refreshingly compelling.”
—USA Today (Happily Ever After blog)
“Hand to my heart, this book positively made me swoon…JANE STEELE is an homage to Jane Eyre, yet infinitely better, since Jane Steele is no one’s victim; she bends life to her will instead of drifting along according to fate’s whimsy…Jane is a thrilling protagonist…I wish that I could read this again for the first time—but I’ve no doubt it will be just as good when I read it for the third and fourth times.”
“For anyone who read "Jane Eyre" wishing for swifter, more final fates for the cruelest characters, Jane Steele is here to grant your wishes…a fresh and imaginative takeoff on "Jane Eyre," and will leave readers with plenty of fodder for discussion.”
“[Faye’s] writing crackles with wit, conveying a hip 21st-century sensibility while remaining true to Brontë’s vision…and her historical research and thoughtfully drawn characters make “Jane Steele” a compelling page-turner.”
“Faye hasn't embarked on a retelling of Brontë's masterwork, or anyone else's, for that matter. Her novel pays homage to the greats, yet offers a heroine whose murky past and murderous present remind us that some female behavior in other eras never made it into print…The satisfaction in this novel is its conviction that the self is enriched by an understanding of others, whether their motives are villainous or amicable.”
“A beautifully written, thoroughly engaging and brilliantly satirical novel…Jane Steele is an extraordinary, likeable narrator, and Faye’s other characters are just as memorable. The sharp and tragic Mr. Thornfield gives Bronte’s Mr. Rochester a run for his money. This book, whether you’re trying to puzzle out the mysteries or just lapping up Faye’s brilliant humor, is an excellent homage to Bronte and simply a treasure on its own.”
—New York Daily News
“A smart satirical gothic romance that plays as much to Charlotte Brontë's fans as Edgar Allan Poe's… Flushed with humour and humors, this novel is a hoot. I laughed not only at Jane's audacity as a character…but also the author's accomplishments skillfully mashing up a modern serial killer novel with a 19th-century novel of manners.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
*Cosmo.com's 15 Perfect Beach Reads for 2016*
*One of New York Post's Must Read Books for the Summer 2016*
Selected as one of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Best Books of 2016
Selected as one of the Los Angeles Public Library’s Best Books of 2016
“Lyndsay Faye give us all the pomp and circumstance of an old English novel, but her murderous twists turn the genre on its head in way that’s sarcastic and satisfying.” –Southern Living
About the Author
Lyndsay Faye is the author of five critically acclaimed books: Dust and Shadow; The Gods of Gotham, which was nominated for an Edgar for Best Novel; Seven for a Secret; The Fatal Flame; and Jane Steele. Faye, a true New Yorker in the sense she was born elsewhere, lives in New York City with her husband, Gabriel.
Top customer reviews
To be clear, this novel is not a retelling of Jane Eyre with added homicide, but an original story with many broad parallels to that novel. In fact, Jane Steele the character has read Jane Eyre the novel and comments on the uncanny similarities between their stories. Steele too faces a childhood among uncaring relations, a cruel and dangerous education, and a post as governess to a broodingly handsome man with an unusual sense of humor and a shadowed past. But unlike Jane Eyre, who spoke harshly but never acted on her strong beliefs, Jane Steele carries a hidden knife, and is not above using it when the situation demands. Even if she unravels the mystery of Charles Thornfield's past, could he ever love a multiple murderess?
The layers of secrecy here make for a compelling Gothic thriller, one helped along by Faye's energetic prose, which offers a lively sense of dark humor and a light period touch that doesn't bog down in tangled nineteenth-century syntax. I don't want to reveal too much about the plot; suffice it to say that the truth involves dark deeds in the Punjab and a conspiracy that would have done Arthur Conan Doyle proud. I did guess who the ultimate villain would be, if only by use of the law of economy of characters, but I had missed some of the clues carefully scattered along the way. And the revelation is satisfying not only as the resolution to a mystery but also as a piece of tragic Gothic storytelling. This isn't one of those novels that pastiches genre fiction with no desire to capture its charms. It's a full-blooded nineteenth-century Romance, with all the melodrama, anguish, and heartfelt devotion that entails.
It's also an interesting take on Jane Eyre. Perhaps this is only my error, but for all the luridness of the plot I've tended to think of Jane Eyre as a safe, sentimental novel, and of Jane as a saintlike protagonist in a moral fable, in contrast to the marvelous selfishness and wildness of, say, Wuthering Heights. But Jane Steele, which opens each chapter with a quote from Jane Eyre, reminds us how unusual Eyre's views were, how critical the original novel was of classism, sexism, and religious hypocrisy in Victorian society. In some ways, Jane Steele's vengeful murders are only practicing what Jane Eyre preached. The point here is that the Gothic and the Romantic, far from being mere exercises in morbid entertainment, were and are a way of thinking of the darker aspects of our own society. One need not regard a thriller as unparalleled literature to grant it a certain moral seriousness.
Lyndsay Faye's first novel, Dust and Shadow, chronicled an investigation by Sherlock Holmes of the Jack the Ripper murders. Many have toyed with that notion, but Faye did it justice by taking it seriously, thinking through the gaps between Doyle's puzzle-adventure stories and the psychological intensity of a sexual serial killer, and doing about the best job possible of containing the latter within the former. Here, too, she avoids the trite and tells a story that acknowledges but isn't defined by its own ridiculousness. This isn't a parody, Jane Eyre with random hatchet murders dropped in in the equivalent of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It's a tale with its own narrative integrity, and a good one. You should read this if you love Jane Eyre, yes, but also if you love Wuthering Heights, or Rebecca, or the Sherlock Holmes stories, or the work of modern writers like John Harwood, Charles Palliser, and Diane Setterfield. Basically, if you've ever thrilled to the exploration of a darkened mansion, the revelation of an unexpected inheritance, or the unmasking of a scheming villain, you'll want to give Jane Steele a chance.
The descriptions let the reader visualize the setting. We understand the ugliness and deceit for the murders. The characters development helped the reader understand the times and the cultures that intertwined. Inserting the historical background worked well.
You will love it if you adore mysteries & historical fiction which justifies murder & mayhem.