Jane Eyre. Book Review #38

It has been three months and about a million things have changed but I am back!

Although I find myself dropping in and out of these posts I’ve always felt that this blog has always been one of my favourite things about reading aside from the reading itself.

Today I would like to talk about a book I finished literally minutes before writing this sentence – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

This classic piece of literature, as I am sure many of you will already know, follows the life and love of Jane Eyre, an orphaned dependant who grows up first in the care of her uncharitable aunt, then the cold walls of Lowood school before becoming governess at Thornfield Hall. It is at Thornfield where Jane meets the sultry and sardonic Mr Rochester, the man who will change the course of her life forever.

I would like to start by simply saying – I enjoyed this book, although my feelings for it are far more complex.

Oddly the majority of classics that I have read were read when I was much younger than I am now and much less knowledgeable about books and literature in general. I find that, as a result of this, in my reading of Jane Eyre I have been able to appreciate some of the finer details of the narrative in much more depth.

Jane Eyre, unlike many classics, is not, thick, difficult or even confusing in the same way that the other Brontë sister, Emily’s Wuthering Heights is. Despite the novel’s thirty eight chapters the plot never feels boring or slow; in fact it feels quite the opposite – Jane Eyre turned out to be one of the most fast paced books I have ever read in the sense that something was always changing in the main character’s life whether that was physical or not. This is one of the books greatest merits – it is constantly exciting. I find that only after having finished it that I am able to step back and see the ridiculousness of the story as a whole and even in spite of this, love it even more.

It would be unfair not to dedicate a few lines of this review simply to the language of the novel. Charlotte Brontë is a weaver of words through and through – there is a reason why her books are still selling even today, centuries on. At times the paragraphs can feel uneccesary and a victim to a victorian preference to ‘overwrite’ but I never felt that this damaged my opinion of the book. In the case of Jane Eyre it only made the events more believable. The fact that the narrator was speaking in such an intelligent vernacular only gave more credibility to the fact that Jane herself was an intellectual woman. The precision of lexical field felt honest and realistic. Further than this, I felt simply that the prose was special in a way that I find very rarely in books. It read like prose but sung like poetry and there was a beauty in this that could not and cannot be ignored; even if you put the mysterious visions, country mansions and cross dressing aside, at the core of Jane Eyre is a beating heart of literary skill and sparkle.

The book easily talks about hundreds of different themes and so I could easily try to talk about all of them but instead i’m going to focus on one that really jumped out at me. The representation of women in this book is clever. Of course, the Brontë sisters are known to be powerfully feminist in their craftsmanship but until reading Jane Eyre I did not realise how empowering and subtle this feminism was. Charlotte Brontë creates what the masses will enjoy as a poor victim but then fashions her with an unbreakable sense of self worth and a body that is not fairytale in its beauty but instead plainly average. Brontë does not just show women that they are powerful, she shows them that they can be powerful in their own lives. When a book’s story moves past it’s pages, that is when the world gets changed.

This book was more than a pleasure to read. I recommend it to everyone of every age and every life.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.

Keep on reading

And thanks again Beth!



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