|Purchase: Amazon | Chapters|
Length: 352 pages
Started: Jan. 1, 2012
Finished Date: Jan. 8, 2012 (8 days)
Where Found: Book Depot
Why Read: On my TBR list
Read For: Back to the Classics Challenge--19th Century Classic (1/9) and Mixing It Up Challenge--Classic (1/16)
Summary: An orphan girl named Jane Eyre comes of age after a miserable childhood raised by a wretched aunt, schooled in a decrepit education system, settling into her role as a governess for a girl under the care of the rough-edged Mr. Rochester.
Jane Eyre is considered one of the greatest gothic novels ever written. To give you an idea, it reminded me of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca meets Jane Austen (though the book was published a good 30 years after Austen's work, it has similar social formalities, though you notice the characters have a more relaxed language and use some familiar slang).
Jane's life is presented in stages, from her childhood with the Reeds, a family that doesn't want her and makes her miserable; Lowood, a school that doesn't want her and makes her even more miserable; Thornfield, where she finds her greatest happiness despite the sharp moods of Mr. Rochester; and the small family she encounters that brings her life around full circle.
When it came to the characters, I didn't really like Jane until she came to Thornfield. Mind you, I did sympathize with her situation as a child but I think once she grew into herself, she became a stronger, better character, and I found her more admirable as a governess and teacher. Her friendship with Helen Burns at Lowood was touching, given the rest of her time at the school was dark and certainly makes me appreciate the school system I teach in--it may not be perfect but it beats Jane Eyre's any day!
Rochester was downright hard to like, much like du Maurier's Max de Winter, but (*SPOILER ALERT*) in the end, both end up being respectable, loving men, despite first impressions and choice words and actions.
What was a little off-putting to me were the religious hyperbole and deus ex machina coincidences occurring near the end of the book. On the upside, it lead to an ending that I liked and added romance to the book's gothic tones. It is thisclose (really, thisclose!) to an A+ for me but it's a smidge too overdramatic at times for me to put against my other A+s.
"Make my happiness and I will make yours."
"I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on Earth."
"And as for the vague something--was it a sinister or a sorrowful, a designing or a desponding expression?--that opened upon a careful observer now and then in his eye and closed again before one could fathom the strange depth partially disclosed."
By the way, the most recent movie version is from 2011 with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender as Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, which I saw just after finishing the book and thought it was a beautifully rendered adaptation.
Rank: (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommend