30/04/2002

Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Brontë)

Charlotte Brontë did not write many books; but then she died before she was forty. The few books that she did write have become classics in English literature.

I first read 'Jane Eyre' in my teens. A couple of chapters were assigned to me for homework. I read them... and then read on... and loved the book so much that I continued reading, and finished the book by the end of the weekend. I then requested my own copy for Christmas, and have re-read it several times since then.

Recently I decided to read 'Jane Eyre' to my sons, aged 15 and 13. It's not the kind of book that either of them would pick up to read, but we enjoy family reading times still, and I thought it about time to introduce them to the book which was my absolute favourite for so many years when I was younger.

The story is fairly well-known. Orphaned Jane, in the early 19th century, is brought up by her cold and unloving aunt. When she tries to stand up for herself as much as she can, she is sent to a charity school, where she suffers even more hardship.

However, she does make some friends, and perseveres - and at the age of 18 applies for a job as governess at a stately home called Thornfield Hall.

Jane befriends Mrs Fairfax, the housekeeper, and her pupil Adele. She also finds herself gradually falling in love with Mr Rochester, owner of the hall, who is a blunt man several years older than she is.

Thornfield Hall has a mystery which Jane learns about in horrifying circumstances, leading her to life-changing decisions.

So there's high drama, romance, pathos... all in rather melodramatic style, but as the writing is good and the characters believable, it somehow doesn't matter. There are, admittedly, some very unlikely coincidences in the later chapters of the book, but the ending is highly satisfactory.

Recommended to everyone; a classic well worth reading at least once. It's been continually in print (in several editions) for not far off 200 years now.

Oh, and my sons enjoyed it too, on the whole.

(You can also read my longer review of Jane Eyre, when I re-read it nearly nine years later in Kindle form)

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