14/02/2011

Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte)

I first came across Charlotte Bronte when I had to read 'Jane Eyre' for English at high school. I suppose I was about fourteen. We were supposed to read the first couple of chapters over the weekend... I was so interested in the story after those two chapters that I kept reading, almost unable to put it down, and finished the book by the Sunday evening.

It then ranked as one of my all-time favourite novels for some years. I have a lovely hardback edition, given me by my grandmother, which I read and re-read several times. The last time I read Jane Eyre was in 2002, when I read it aloud to my sons. However, finding that this book is available free for the Kindle, I decided to read the ebook version recently, and have been doing so for a couple of weeks.

It's a well-known, classic story of orphaned, strong-willed imaginative Jane. She was reared until she was ten by her unloving aunt, then sent to the privations of Lowood School where she suffered, but grew in determination and eventually did well.

At eighteen, Jane finds a job as a governess for little Adele, ward of the mysterious Mr Rochester. She finds herself increasingly drawn to this rather curmudgeonly, not particularly attractive man despite his being twenty years older than she is. She befriends his housekeeper, Mrs Fairfax, and becomes very attached to Adele, despite her being rather frivolous. There is evidently something strange going on at Thornfield Hall, where they live... but Jane does not begin to guess what, in fact, the secret is.

There's melodrama, caricatures of the unpleasant aunt and cousins, and a few other minor characters. I was surprised to find just what a rambling style this book has in places - so much so that I actually checked my book edition more than once to see if it had been abridged - it's hard to believe I read aloud all the description and rambling, but I suppose I must have done.

There's a rather unlikely coincidence towards the end of the book, too - almost a deus ex machina ending, which could have seemed like a cheat. But for some reason, it doesn't. Nor do any of the other obvious problems with the book (from a modern perspective) detract from the readability and excitement of 'Jane Eyre'. Jane's own character is unusual, and extremely likeable.

Definitely recommended. Links are to paperback editions of this classic book.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 14th February 2011

1 comment:

mrsragh said...

yes I too am an ardent lover of this book. first read it as a non detailed text in my undergraduate years and then again and again for many a times.each time more concentrating on finer details.
A really fine work.