I love mysteries. I love spunky heroines. I love humor and dry witty banter. I love Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters.
Imagine my delight to discover JANE STEELE by Lyndsay Faye.
JANE STEELE is part homage to JANE EYRE, part fair play mystery, part Sikh primer, part romance, part faux-memoir, and a complete pleasure to read.
Young Jane Steele lives in the Victorian era, with her French mother in a guest house on an English estate. Her mother tells Jane that she is the rightful owner and heir to the estate.
The story begins with Jane confessing to the reader her first (yes, first) murder. After the death of her mother and her cousin, young Jane is sent to a boarding school. A truly horrible boarding school. Think more Little Princess/Jane Eyre and less Hogwarts.
The story follows Jane through her school, to London, then back to her estate home, now occupied by the dashing Charles Thornfield, his young ward, and his butler Mr. Singh.
Some of the reviews on Amazon describe this book as “Jane Eyre as a serial killer,” or “Dexter meets Jane Eyre.” These both miss the mark. There is death, but there is also justice, love, honor, and grace.
I loved this one!
What’s your favorite classic?
Jane Eyre is a beloved classic. The poor governess Jane. The tormented Mr. Rochester. Thornfield. All well known to lovers of romance, the classics, and the gothic novel. Jane Eyre was the first classic literature I ever read. Although, given a choice now, I prefer Austen to Brontë, I still have a soft spot for Jane.
A few months ago I taped an airing of a Jane Eyre movie. I thought it was the fairly recent 2011 version, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t even the older 2006 mini-series. Nope, it was the 1996 edition with William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsbourg. I knew something was odd when I saw Joan Plowright listed in the credits. She hasn’t appeared in anything in about six years.
It’s a somewhat abbreviated retelling of Jane’s story, but enjoyable enough for a Sunday afternoon of ironing. I’m going to keep my eyes open for the 2011 version, just so I have a point of comparison. I don’t think I’ve seen a film version of Jane Eyre before.
I’ll skip the 2006 mini-series. I’m just not a Ruth Wilson fan. I’m sure she’s a lovely person and a talented actress, but … I can’t get past her unusually shaped upper lip. It’s so long and thin, it distracts me. I’m one of the few people who quite enjoyed The Lone Ranger, but it was in spite of Ruth Wilson, not thanks to her. And in Saving Mr. Banks, I can’t even tell you what her part was or how it played in the story (Ms. Travers’s mother? maybe …) because in all of her scenes, I couldn’t take my eyes off her lip.
In 2012, I reviewed The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesay, a retelling/update/homage to Jane Eyre. I was surprised by how many details in the novel were echoes of the original and also found in the movie.
Now, I’m off to find the 2011 version. Do you have a favorite classic?