Book Review: Jane Steele

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Jane Steele

Lyndsay Faye

Headline Review

432 pages

Jane Steele is a new retelling of Jane Eyre, done in a sassy and clever way. Jane Steele was orphaned as a child and was forced to make her way in Victorian London. Jane is a hardened girl who has been forced to fend for herself, and she quickly learns how to stand up for herself, even if it means resorting to murder. Yes, Jane Eyre has been reimagined as a serial killer.

Eventually, Jane becomes a governess for Sahjara, who is the wars of Charles Thorpe. Charles has inherited Jane’s family mansion, and she has maneuvered her way into the household to determine whether she is the rightful heir, as her mother has led her to believe. As is expected though, she falls in love with Charles Thorpe. He has been hiding his own secrets, and their love is threatened by the pasts they’re withholding from one another.

Jane Steele is one of the best heroines I have read in recent memory. Her snappy dialogue had me laughing aloud, and I loved how brazen she was, while also being humble. And don’t even get me started on the love affair aspect of the book. It was one of those love angles that is so effortless for the reader. I was rooting for them the whole time and really wanted them to be together.

I don’t think it is necessary to have read Jane Eyre before reading Jane Steele. Admittedly, it has been so long since I read Jane Eyre that I honestly don’t remember many details. I feel that Jane Steele, while having been inspired by the original, is truly a standalone book.

Book Review: Cartwheel

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Cartwheel

Jennifer DuBois

Random House

368 pages

Cartwheel is a fictionalization account of the murder of Meredith Kercher. Amanda Knox was Meredith’s roommate abroad in Perugia, Italy and was convicted of homicide, along with her boyfriend at the time and another man who lived nearby. Knox’s conviction was eventually thrown out but the case garnered a lot of media attention, for obvious reasons.

I personally know quite a bit about the case, but am by no means an expert. There were very obvious parallels between the Amanda Knox case and Cartwheel, but at the same time there were many big differences. The biggest one was that Lily’s boyfriend Sebastien was not charged with a crime in the book. Sebastien was actually probably my biggest issue in Cartwheel. He was probably the most annoying character I have ever come across. I typically am not a reader that has to “like” the characters to enjoy a book, but my disdain for Sebastien really hampered my enjoyment of this book. I also thought Katy and Lily were annoying as well and the first half of the book really dragged for this reason.

Eventually, as the book gained momentum with Katy’s death and the continuing investigation (the book was not a linear narrative and the book actually begins with Lily’s family traveling to see her and then goes back and forth until the murder is eventually recounted), I started to warm up a little. Even so, I felt that there was so much build up but Katy’s relationship with Lily was never really explained, at least not to my satisfaction, and then the actual trial was barely mentioned.

I am not sure how I would have felt about Cartwheel had I not been familiar with the Amanda Knox case. I think I would have been just as annoyed with the characters, but it’s possible I would have viewed Lily a little differently. The pacing of the novel would still be an issue for me either way as well. I wish this had worked out better for me because I really love the idea of it, I just maybe expected too much with how it should be executed.