Readerly Rambles: A DNF Book Review


A few weeks ago I grabbed Jane Steele : a Novel by Lyndsey Faye from the public library. The story concerns Jane Steele, a young woman with a life trajectory very similar to Jane Eyre. This is not a retelling of Jane Eyre. Jane Steele notes that her life circumstances are similar to Jane Eyre with the main exception being that Jane Steele is a murderer. The book is fast-paced, well-written, and I was gripped from the first chapter.

Reader, I cannot finish it.

Jane Steele is a murderer, but more of the vigilante variety.

She murders her rape-y cousin, the cruel sexual harassing schoolmaster, the wife beater, and the child molesting judge.

I couldn’t read any more.

The depravity and murders are not lurid in their detail, but to be honest, the Stanford rapist’s trial has more upset and triggered than I would like to admit. I’m outraged. And after reading the victim statement I simply couldn’t read about women be hurt. I know this is fantastical Gothic, neo-Victorian fiction, but I could not carry on. I found the book just sat there starring at me. I starred at the book thinking “women have never been safe, women will never be safe.” It was an extreme reaction that was completely unexpected.

So, Jane Steele is headed back to the library and I’m delving into something else. I would encourage others to give it a try, but perhaps not it you’re in a sensitive place in your life.



  1. That is too bad this didn’t work for you! I have never read Faye before, but always hear lots of good things about her books and keep meaning to try her.

  2. Oh, I — didn’t realize that she was avenging, like, sexual violence in all the murders she was doing. I feel really stupid for not reading between the lines and figuring that out. It’s not like I haven’t seen enough reviews that have assured me all her victims super-deserved it. Hm. I am still not sure if I want to read this book, but if I do end up reading it, I’m glad to have the warning. Don’t blame you at all for DNFing!

  3. Good call – sometimes it’s just not the right time for a book that would have been good on another occasion. And take care of yourself – a lot of horrible things going on in the world at the moment.

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