BOOK REVIEW | Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

REVIEW | Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Review by Mark David Major

(Book blurb begins) A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre has dazzled generations of readers with its depiction of a woman’s quest for freedom. Having grown up an orphan in the home of her cruel aunt and at a harsh charity school, Jane Eyre becomes an independent and spirited survivor-qualities that serve her well as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him whatever the consequences or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving her beloved? This updated Penguin Classics edition features a new introduction by Brontë scholar and award-winning novelist Stevie Davies, as well as comprehensive notes, a chronology, further reading, and an appendix. (Book blurb ends)

For someone who lived in England for nearly a decade and considers himself some of an Anglophile, I have always had a ‘blind spot’ for some areas of English culture. For example, 20th century English Realism in cinema is too damn depressing so I tend to avoid it. Another is 18th and 19th century classic English literature (Dickens, Austen, Brontë Sisters, and so on). I tend to prefer the offerings of French and American literature from that period. When I decided to read Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847), I approached the task with a great deal of trepidation. My fears seemed confirmed as the pace of Brontë’s first 10 chapters was glacial. However, once Jane Eyre escapes her abusive childhood ‘foster home’ and goes to school, my fears started to drift away. By the time, Jane leaves school to become a governess, my fears were gone and I was completely engaged in Brontë’s story about young Jane Eyre and her Mr. Rochester. It is very easy to understand why Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847) is considered a classic. Really, it all comes down to one thing: Jane Eyre is one of the most fascinating characters – male or female – you will ever encounter in literature. Yes, the story is a good one, too (if a little too reliant on the coincidences of ‘fate’). What really marks Brontë’s novel as outstanding is the first person narrative, which allows us as readers to get ‘inside’ Jane’s head and hear about what she is thinking, her hopes and fears, and so on. I promise you: what Jane Eyre (and, by implication, Charlotte Brontë herself) is thinking is a very worthwhile journey. Mark’s Grade:

Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Brontë

Penguin Classics, 1874 (2006 Reprint Edition)
Paperback, English, 624 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0141441146

You can purchase the Penguin Classics Edition on Amazon here.

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