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Ratings and Reviews (1 14 star ratings
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4.5 out of 5
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    Reminds Me Why I Love Reading

    This book enchanted me. It reminded me of how passionate I was about learning to read when I was 5 or 6 so that I could read all the stories I wanted to whenever I wanted to and not have to wait my turn to have my parents read them to me. It also reminded me of my first impressions of classics such as the writings of the Bronte sisters and Daphne duMaurier. Yes, there was darkness there; yet juxtaposed with light. There was romance and the struggle away from and toward it. There was murder and mayhem and the questions of how and why it occurred. All those are found within Jane Steele – and there is deprivation and betrayal; friendship and hope; despair and cruelty; kindness and love. There are secrets. As Jane says, “. . . I warn the tempted: secrets decay, as corpses do, growing ranker over time.” These secrets themselves, and the healing by revealing for those hanging on to them underscore the story. Incidents happen like tentacles spreading outward, and when one tentacle is cut off, it sometimes sprouts to re-surface later in the story, enmeshed with another tentacle that was not observably connected earlier. The story itself is riveting, and the prose was like an intoxicant for me. Metaphor and similes made me pause and see an even deeper meaning to the story. As an example, Mr. Thornfield describes the Khalsa army thus: “. . . a hundred thousand strong marching in such perfect order a Geneva watch would have dashed itself to pieces forthwith.” In talking about the turbulent Punjab during the time of the wars, he described, “. . . the area was about as stable as a rocking horse.” And in describing a man who married his friend’s sister, “For face furniture, the man was a palace.” As is often the case in wars, money is heavily involved. In this case, “. . . the loot flowed down our street like rain down a gutter.” And then this gem: “. . . he added two and two together and he decided they spelt blackmail.” The writing is most lyrical when Jane describes her feelings about things. For example: “. . . if the endearments I showered him with, all the languidly falling petals of my shaken tree, were written rather than spoken, so much the better – he could read them over whensoever he liked, shove them in a drawer if he preferred, and my love would have some permanence, the way whispers made in the dead of night do not.” Or this one: “As I seemed incapable of turning myself in, however, would any harm come to the world if for the moment I thought of this newly reborn Jane . . . as a creature worth treating gently? There was no one else volunteering for the task, after all.” And another beautiful metaphor, in speaking of her friend: “We shared the same tastes once, Clarke and I, moved in twin orbits like binary stars.” Toward the closing chapters of the book, Jane writes, “I hope that the epitaph of the human race when the world ends will be: here perished a species which loved to tell stories.” Amen to that, and may great storytellers like Lindsay Faye continue to share their craft with all of us. For me, during the entire time I was reading this book, I was utterly transported. So often the way with the best stories.
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