Jane Steele seeks retribution and redemption in Faye’s latest novel, an homage to Jane Eyre.
By the time she's 24 and an undercover governess at her ancestral home, Jane is well acquainted with death. Having been orphaned and sent away to the hellish Lowan Bridge School by her cruel Aunt Patience, Jane has committed a few murders “for love and for better reasons.” But when news reaches her that her aunt has died, Jane is determined to find out whether or not she is the rightful heir to her late father’s estate. Her tenuous claim to the property is threatened threefold: female inheritance is practically nonexistent in 19th-century England, she's a criminal, and a certain Charles Thornfield is now the owner of Highgate House. Jane takes the governess position hoping to reclaim the estate but finds instead that Thornfield and his Sikh butler, Sardar Singh, are embroiled in the aftermath of the Anglo-Sikh wars, fighting off the infinite greed of the East India Company. Faye (Fatal Flame, 2015, etc.) crafts a story with all the trappings of a period romance: children play both heroes and villains; Thornfield is an attractive, war-weathered, and jaded shadow of a man, close but not quite close enough to touch. But what makes this novel its own type of pièce de résistance is Jane’s relationship with Jane Eyre. Jane is writing down her story because she has “been reading over and over again the most riveting book titled Jane Eyre, and the work inspires [her] to imitative acts.” Each chapter begins with a short excerpt from Charlotte Brontë's work, and Jane’s interpretation of the classic novel lifts her story out of standard romance and into conversations about identity, guilt, and truth. Jane writes, “Some tragedies bind us, as lies do; they are ropes braided of hurt and bitterness, and you cannot ever fully understand how pinioned you are until the ties are loosened.” And loosened they are, then knotted even further, and unlaced only to be retied in new circumstances.
A novel that explores great torment and small mercies.