Okay, so we’re only 1/3 of the way into 2016, but I must admit that I already have one of my top three. Hey, if I get one more in the next four months, then another after that, I’ll be right on track! (One year, my favorite book of the year came out in January. It was a disappointing year.) If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve likely heard me rave about Jane Steele, and you will probably hear me do it more. But today I thought I’d add a little to my 140-character recommendations.
When I recommended this to someone the other night, she said “I don’t usually like retellings of my favorite books.” Let me put that idea to bed right now. Jane Steele is no more a retelling of Jane Eyre than it is a retelling of Dexter. No, it lies somewhere improbably and impeccably in between. Instead, our heroine, serial murderess Jane Steele, take Jane Eyre as her one friend, a character from a book to whom she relates far better than any flesh and blood companion. (I rather suspect that some of the readers of this blog have had that experience a time or two.) As she says,
Yet I find myself pitying the strange, kindly Jane in the novel whose biography is so weirdly similar; she, too, was as welcome in her aunt’s household as are churchmice in the Communion larder, and was sent to a hell in the guise of a girls’ school. That Jane was unfairly accused of wickedness, however, while I can no better answer my detractors than to thank them for their pains over stating the obvious.
And, in case you’re wondering of what wickedness she speaks, right at the beginning of the book, she lets you know:
It was the boarding school that taught me to act as a wolf in girl’s clothing should: skulking, a greyer shadow within a grey landscape. It was London which formed me into a pale, wide-eyed creature with an errant laugh, a lust for life and for dirty vocabulary, and a knife in her pockets. It was Charles who changed everything, when I fell in love with him under the burdens of a false identity and a blighted conscience. The beginning of a memoir could be made in any of those places, but without my dear cousin Edwin Barbary, none of the rest would have happened at all, so I hereby begin my account with the unembellished truth:
Reader, I murdered him.
Now, how can you possibly resist that? I know I could not. No matter that the book was more than I spend on any but a handful of authors. I had to have it RIGHT BLOODY NOW. So I did. And then, when I read it while on vacation, my husband got irritated because he wanted to do trivial things like eating while all I wanted to do was lock myself away with the book.
(If you want to see more, NPR has an excerpt.)
Yes, this is a romance. It’s also a crime novel, a satire, a comedy, a Gothic…it’s an unlikely blend of everything delicious and you could not ask for more. And since I know people’s budgets are tight and this is pricey, I am giving away two copies. That’s right, two. In your choice of paper or e. All you have to do to enter is comment with the name of a book you’ve really liked this year (and your email address or Twitter or FB handle so I know how to contact you). I’ll pick winners on Monday!
Contest open internationally for ebook copies—I can’t afford to ship print!