Title: Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Genre: Historical Romance
How I Read It: Hard cover purchased by me.
Synopsis: Born into a poor family and raised by an oppressive aunt, young Jane Eyre becomes the governess at Thornfield Manor to escape the confines of her life. There her fiery independence clashes with the brooding and mysterious nature of her employer, Mr. Rochester. But what begins as outright loathing slowly evolves into a passionate romance. When a terrible secret from Rochester’s past threatens to tear the two apart, Jane must make an impossible choice: Should she follow her heart or walk away and lose her love forever?
Unabashedly romantic and utterly enthralling, Jane Eyre endures as one of the greatest love stories of all time.
*Synopsis taken from Goodreads
Please Note: Normally I do my best to not have spoilers in a review. However, when you’re rereading a book, it’s harder to avoid that! So if you have no idea what happens, and you don’t want to, don’t read this review
My Review: Oh how I love this novel! Jane Eyre is one of those novels that I can read over and over again and get something new out of it every time. I consider it to be one of the most readable classics, one I can just pick up and lose myself in it without even thinking about it. To me, that’s a testament to how well it holds up, there aren’t too many classics I can say that about because I find so many of them to be rather plodding.
This time around, I found myself to be much more emotional about the trials that Jane goes through. I’ve gone through quite a few emotional events since the last time I read this one, and that undoubtedly affected my reading of many of the situations Jane is in. I openly wept when reading about her treatment during early childhood at Gateshead and later at Lowell School.
As we get towards the middle section of the book, and Jane finds such happiness at Thornfield, I was so elated to witness her journey again. Yet, because I knew where it was going, I found myself deliberately slowing down, as if I could prevent more pain for her simply by reading the story so slowly. Of course, this didn’t work and I was soon crying along with Jane again as another misfortune befell her. At some point, I just want poor Jane to catch a break!
I think the thing that struck me most during this reading was how incredibly frustrated I was with St. John. Normally my frustration in this book is directed towards Mr. Rochester, he seems so fickle at times and difficult to read. Speaking of, I wasn’t ever sure…is Rochester his actual name, or is that his estate/title? I think Fairfax is his real surname but I could be wrong. Those Brits always confuse me with this stuff!
Anyway, back to St. John. He really is a good man, you can see it oozing from him, but he is so incredibly stubborn I wanted to reach into the pages and just slap him! I get that things were different back when this was written, and that what Jane proposed to him really just wasn’t feasible. My frustration stems from his inability to just let the whole thing go!
Given that he basically knows the entirety of Jane’s story, I think it’s really manipulative of him to continually try to convince her to do what he wants. He’s not a stupid man, he knows that Jane longs to be involved with other people and is eager to please due to her childhood being so grim. And rather than taking a truly Christian path by wishing her the best when she makes her own choice, he continues to try and guilt her into doing things his way, even to the detriment of her own health, without any real concern for what may be best for her personally. Maybe it’s my own ambivalent religious beliefs that make this more difficult for me, because I just don’t believe that Jane should have to give up the things she believes may make her happy simply because St. John believes she *could* be a good servant to the lord. Needless to say, I agree with the choices Jane makes in the end, as she was finally able to do as she pleased.
Because this is a reread for me, I knew all the major plot points ahead of time, and I think that knowledge added to the frustration I felt for St. John. With each reading, I feel like I understand Jane a little more, and feel for her more deeply, so I can almost experience the pain she goes through to the point that her conversations with these important people really affect me on an intimate level. I felt my own happiness being ripped away at the same time that Jane did, and that makes her all the more real to me.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this novel, but this one really cemented it as my all time favorite classic, and one of the books I recommend to people when they ask for something new to read.
Read this book if: I honestly think everyone should read this, I love it and y’all should too!
My Rating: 5/5 – Did I say cool? Make that awesome!