Sunday, May 22, 2016

strictly literary: jane steele by lyndsay faye

imagine mild-mannered governess is actually a murderess several times over and there you have the hook for jane steele by lyndsay faye. this homage to jane eyre has been mischaracterized as a retelling, but that is absolutely not the case.

certainly there is overlap. jane steele's life story maps pretty closely to jane eyre's, with several key differences. jane steele's victorian england is a darker, grittier place. but the fact that the seedy underbelly is explicitly rendered in the text feels fresh, this isn't just some jane eyre wannabe we're reading about. this is jane steele, a woman who identifies with jane eyre, but who has more depth and more agency than our original victorian-era heroine.

even though our jane is a serial murderer, she is extremely sympathetic. also there is an argument to be made for the fact that all of her murders are somewhat justified. if anything she is a vigilante, not evil or wicked. her name is especially apt, as she has such a strong sense of self, an inner core of steel that makes her a character worth rooting for.

i also really enjoyed the addition of the sikhs to the story. it gives charles thornfield [our mr. rochester] some hidden depths. he's not just some dude unfortunately married to a crazy lady living in the attic. he's a man who has seen war and suffering, a man who feels honor and loyalty to the people who he's brought with him to england. the secondary characters are so richly drawn that there is much to enjoy in the details of this novel. it's worth reading and re-reading. and if i'm being completely honest, i may love it a little more than i love jane eyre. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. No spam please. Let's keep things fun and nice and respectful.