Penguin sent me this book unsolicited, perhaps because my blog speaks so frequently of Victorian literature, murder, women, and disaster stories that it seemed a safe bet I would like it. And I did.
I thought at first that Jane Steele was just a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies approach to Jane Eyre, but where Jane is a murderer. It is SORT of like that, except Jane Eyre is mostly just referenced frequently throughout it as the heroine's favorite book, so her life is more inspired by it than it being a take-off of the direct text.
Inspired by it indeed! Jane Steele's life parallels the other Jane's in most ways, including her disgusting cousin at the beginning, her time in a loathsome school, and her work as governess for a mysterious man's ward. It reminded more of Christopher Moore's Lamb than anything else, as much like Lamb and its "differenty" take on Jesus's life, Jane Steele's story mirrors Jane Eyre's, except for some very interesting additional episodes.
One of the things I enjoy the most about modern Victorian era novels is they can talk about sex and death and the realities of life without the weird veneer that authors like Dickens had to put on them. You feel like you get something of a more accurate picture of what life was like, because much like the Hays Code in American movies in the '40s, not talking about those things didn't make them not happen.
Jane Steele's a book I pretty much barreled through, so if you like Victorian novels and some murdering and also a pretty large amount of info about the Sikh religion, then go for this.
The only thing I wanted, to be honest, was probably to make Jane even more of a sociopath. And while I appreciate LGBT representation (I DO), stuff that's been going on in the community as of late makes me extra-touchy not only about lesbians getting an unhappy ending, but also being used to further a heterosexual love story. Which for sure happens here. It's just a moment, but it needs to be commented on, because c'mon, authors. We're worth more than that. Stop it.