I picked up Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye based on the review by @faintingviolet. And also Jane Eyre is one of my very favorite books.
The eponymous Jane of Jane Steele is headstrong and willful, convinced she knows herself and her capabilities to her very core. She knows these things about herself because from a very young age, she has been told few things but those things she is told, she is told with great certainty.
Jane’s moral certainty leads her to commit murder and deprive herself of companionship, believing as she does that since she knows herself so well, and what she is capable of, she must also protect those she loves, even from herself. Only after adopting a false identity does Jane Steele realize how false her knowledge of herself really is.
Jane Steele is not quite as fully realized a character as Jane Eyre (Jane Steele herself invites the comparison so I don’t feel bad doing it), but that may be that we simply don’t spend as much time with Jane Steele as we do with Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre is also more inclined to self-reflection while Jane Steele believes she has settled the questions of her character long ago. Jane Steele has a more modern flavor, believing she has the ability to change her circumstances and station in life through her actions.
An obvious comparison also comes in the form of Jane Steele’s love interest, Mr. Charles Thornfield (which… Thornfield? I mean… really?). Mr. Thornfield is not much like Mr. Rochester, other than being older than Jane and somewhat gruff. The impediments to their relationship come less from a mad wife imprisoned in the attic than their own baggage. Mr. Thornfield is also a lot less prone to executing elaborate schemes to find out how Jane feels about him. However, I found the romantic aspect of Jane Steele the least interesting. Jane herself is the draw.
Overall, I enjoyed this book a great deal and would recommend it. I found trying to correlate certain things with Jane Eyre a fun Easter egg hunt but I believe someone who had not read Jane Eyre or didn’t remember it well wouldn’t miss out on anything- Jane Steele can definitely stand alone.