I’d always thought that Brontë’s Jane Eyre would be something along the lines of an Austen story… long, tedious and based solely around trying to win the man (my previous reviews of Austen haven’t been the most glowing).
And yes, Jane Eyre seemed to start along those lines, until page 130 when the mysteriousness of Mr Rochester’s attic was introduced, followed by eerie wailings and laughter at all hours. Suddenly, we had a story worth reading!
I’m always shocked when I learn about the lives of these nineteenth century authors, especially the women, and how much they managed to fit in very few years. Brontë attended just one year of school when she was 14 but still managed to become a successful author along with her two younger sisters. All three women published under male pseudonyms.
Jane Eyre is such a detailed and complex story, set in many different locations spanning many years. From the moment the mysterious attic was introduced I was hooked. I can’t say I especially liked the character Jane, or even felt empathy towards her, but this didn’t stop me from wanting to find out what happened. I was a little disappointed by the ending, spoiler alert, as I thought Brontë was going to go totally rogue and have the woman decide she doesn’t need any man in her life to be fulfilled.
Jane Eyre was published when Charlotte was just 31. Ten years later she died while pregnant with her first child, from hyperemesis gravidarum. Her books lived on so much longer than she did, and she could never know the impact she’d have on generations to come.
PS I was constantly disturbed by the image of Ruth Wilson on the front cover of the book, from the BBC series. To me it looked like Jane had a persistent droplet of water hanging from her chin. Do you see it too?
In July 2014 I set myself the challenge to finish 100 must-read books before I die. For my ongoing tally click here.Follow @jessieansons