Finding the bright in the irritating + “Jane Steele” by Lyndsay Faye

Yesterday was one of those days. I woke up early in the morning, around 4, and couldn’t fall back asleep. So I grabbed my phone and opened Facebook. And that’s when I saw it.

Another terror attack. Brussels. Historically a financial and cultural hub, more recently the home of the European Union (EU) Parliament and NATO. But also home to a neighborhood (Molenbeek) that’s synonymous with Islamic terrorism, where the mastermind of the Paris attacks was able to hide for months because police don’t really enter the neighborhood. I mean, he was staying four doors down from his parents. And no one turned him in.

So, I look at all those things, and my faith in humanity is shaken. I’m not a natural worrier, but having kids has made me a little more so. On a day like yesterday I have trouble putting my girls on the bus and sending them to schools, where they’re out of my sight. I have trouble watching my husband drive away; I have trouble knowing that my parents and the rest of my family are far away.

In situations like today I usually try to think of all the positives in my world. Today, though, they weren’t coming as quickly as normal. Instead I started thinking about all the things that are driving me nuts. And surprisingly, this helped. First off, the list made me laugh. And second, I’m lucky enough to live in a place where I have these problems to drive me nuts, and that makes me slightly happy.

What’s driving me nuts? Here’s a shortlist:

  • Our Kroger can’t keep milk in stock since the other neighborhood grocery store closed. They need to figure this out. It’s been a month!
  • No one in my family can put things away. Or empty the dishwasher. Or load the dishwasher.
  • It takes waaaay too long to get across our small town. WAY too long.
  • I hate it when people put those things on Facebook that are “if you care, you’ll share this.” It makes me NOT share it.
  • My keyboard is filthy, and it makes me a little ill.
  • There is no pillow in this world comfy enough.
  • People are really whiny–me included.

andy-rooneys-quotes-7So, that’s the end of my Andy Rooney rant. There are so many other, bigger things that get to me, but these things made me smile early on a depressing morning. I feel lucky to live in a slice of the world where these little things are actually things that vex me.


These little irritations help me count my blessings.

Okay, onto Lynday Faye’s Jane Steele. Not irritated by this one AT ALL!!

Reader, I murdered him.

–Jane Steele

The Premise

Jane Steele’s life is familiar–it mirrors the life of her literary heroine, Jane Eyre. She’s orphaned at a young age, left to live with an uncaring aunt, eventually shipped off to a stark, evil boarding school.

Both Janes are living Victorian nightmares. Both girls are called evil, but Steele believes it to be true. Because she’s killed those that wrong her.

After boarding school, Steele disappears into the streets of London. When her aunt dies, the estate that was to go to Steele instead passes to a distant relative, Charles Thornfield. Thornfield was raised in India, returning to England with a Sikh household that includes his best friend and butler and a young girl he saved. Jane accepts a position as the governess at the estate in order to get closer to her birthright, but instead fumbles upon a mystery, and a family, that just might trap her.

My Thoughts

This book is a favorite!! I love a retelling of a favorite, but this one is different. It didn’t modernize the story, just kind of took elements of the story and played with it a bit.

Jane Steele is set in the Victorian age, just like its inspiration, Jane Eyre. And it had some of the romantic, Gothic elements of Eyre. But it also drew in period elements of some Charles Dickens and, even more so , Frances Hodges Burnett’s  The Secret Garden. It doesn’t seem like these would mesh well, but add in a heroine that a bit Jane Eyre and a bit Jessica Jones (mouthy, spunky, brave) and it works. Really really well.

I loved Jane Steele. It’s my new favorite suggestion. I love a novel that fights against pigeon-holing. Not quite romance, not quite mystery, a period novel that isn’t defined by its period, a retelling of a classic that isn’t really a retelling at all. This book made me smile in a huge, toothy way.

I give Jane Steele five stars. Five stars!! LOVED it.



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