Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre Kindle Edition
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|Kindle, May 2, 2017||
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"The Rev. Mr Brocklehurst speaks to Jane: `Do you know where the wicked go after death?' `They go to hell,' was my ready and orthodox answer. `And what is hell? Can you tell me that?' `A pit full of fire.' `And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?' `No, sir.' `What must you do to avoid it?' I deliberated for a moment; my answer, when it did come, was objectionable: ` I must keep in good health, and not die.'"
No good outlining the plot - everybody knows about the mad wife in the attic - but it's the second half which has the surprises: Jane offering to go with the missionary to India, not as his wife but as his assistant, extraordinary for that day and age.
This is a really really good read for all ages; I get something new out of it every time. And a happy ending - what more can one ask?
I recently read Erin McCole Cupp's sci-fi retelling of Jane Eyre, The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan. (It's available as a series of e-books - Unclaimed, Nameless, and Vanished - which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND.) After reading the modernized adaption, I was eager to re-read the original.
Here's where having a horrible memory pays off: I was able to enjoy details on the third go-round that I'd missed before or long forgotten. Additionally, reading Cupp's adaption brought new insights into the characters, circumstances, and salient points of Bronte's classic.
To me, Jane Eyre has what it takes to keep me re-reading. A strong heroine whose self-deprecation and poverty (not necessarily monetary poverty) make her relatable. A firm moral backbone. A bit of mystery with some surprising twists. And enough of the weird and eccentric to spark curiosity and interest.
My only (very small) niggling qualm about the story is a few deus ex machina contrivances, such as Jane’s uncle dying at a propitious moment, when all her life she has believed herself to be entirely alone in the world. Still, it’s explained – the evil Aunt Reed has withheld the information from her.
The entire story seems very Dickensian, told from a female point of view. (It was published in 1847, ten years after Oliver Twist and two years before David Copperfield.) It has love, suspense, and a whole lot of symbolism to boot, if you care to look for it. I loved it.
As a part of my personal "Classics I Should Have Read But Didn't" series, I listened to this on my daily commute, and for anyone who finds Victorian-era novels a bit daunting, I would recommend the version from Audible.com, read by one of my faves, Emma Messenger. Her narration is, as always, brilliant.
Note: After you've read Jane Eyre, you might enjoy the genre-bending Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. The first novel in the series is The Eyre Affair, featuring Jane, Rochester, and the cast of Jane Eyre in a wildly inventive (and quite funny) alternate-reality crime novel.
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