Friday, March 11, 2011

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë - Book Review #130

Friday, March 11, 2011
Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Brontë

Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman's passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed. With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte's innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.

Jane Eyre isn’t just a classic; it is the book that inspired other classics, such as Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. It also inspired many other authors. William Makepeace Thackeray called it "the masterwork of great genius." Jane Eyre is proclaimed by thousands of readers the all time favorite. It is not just British classics. It is not only known to the western world. It is internationally famous.

I knew all these praises before I started reading Jane Eyre and regardless, I was certain I will hate it. Why? Oh, just a silly reason: my experience with no less praised and called the most romantic book ever, by Charlotte Brontë’s sister Emily Brontë - Wuthering Heights. Yes, I know that to judge a book of one family member by the book of another doesn’t make much sense, that’s why I called a silly reason.

I vaguely remembered the story of Jane Eyre from a movie adaptation that I saw some years ago, when I still was a child. The bits and pieces I remembered from the movie plus my prejudice against Brontë sisters combined in my head into something ugly. So imagine my surprise, when after initial fifty pages I was finally able to unclench my fingers of the book and realized that I’m actually loving it. I waited for the moment when I will start hating Jane Eyre through the entire book, but it never came. I loved it from the start to finish.

Don’t get me wrong, Jane Eyre isn’t by far my favorite character, no I always agreed with her decisions. However, everything she did, everything she felt, or was afraid of was very characteristic to her and completely logical. Her actions and feelings fitted her perfectly and even if I disagree with something, I understood her.

What I really liked about Jane Eyre as a book, was the writing style. It was uncommon for Victorian book to have a first-person viewpoint narrative. Charlotte Brontë choice of this point of view made the story of Jane Eyre sounds very personal. Through the entire book I had a feeling that I was reading someone’s diary. And even though this someone is long gone, I had a feeling I was reading this diary without permission, so to the curiosity the obscure feeling of guilt was added that made reading process even more interesting and exciting. Not all first-person viewpoint novel create such emotions in me, so I’m guessing, there should be something more to it, which, unfortunately, I can’t pin-point.

Verdict: it is a rare event, as my husband told me, but this time, I’m in agreement with the majority: Jane Eyre is a great book and I advise it to everyone who never read it.


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