Retro Friday: Jane Eyre

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

So I finished reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte this week and I thought that a review of this classic piece would be perfect for Retro Friday. I realized that I’ve never read Jane Eyre when I saw reviews of Jane by April Lindner popping up in the blogosphere. The retelling got very positive reviews so I was curious. I decided to read the original before I picked up Jane. I actually don’t know why I never read Jane Eyre. I know I had a classics phase back in college but I missed this one. One of my good friends made me read The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (she told me I didn’t need to read the original to enjoy it) so I already had an idea of what occurs in the original story. Still, I believe I would’ve liked The Eyre Affair if I read Jane Eyre beforehand.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Charlotte Bronte’s impassioned novel is the love story of Jane Eyre, a plain yet spirited governess, and her arrogant, brooding Mr. Rochester. Published in 1847, under the pseudonym of Currer Bell, the book heralded a new kind of heroine – one whose virtuous integrity, keen intellect and tireless perseverance broke through class barriers to win equal stature with the man she loved.

Images from: We Heart It

The novel starts with Jane Eyre as a child. She’s an orphan so she was raised by her aunt-in-law, Mrs. Reed, who never really liked her. The book was a little slow for me during this part but I did admire Jane for standing up against the bullying of her cousin. The book briefly touches on her school years at Lowood and then moves on to her late teenage years, when she becomes restless and decides to go out in the world. Jane ends up as a governess to Adele, the young, half-French ward of Mr. Rochester. There begins the romantic aspect of the story. However, Jane and Mr. Rochester go through a lot of obstacles before they finally end up together.

Jane Eyre is a dark and brooding novel. Even the thoughts and dreams of the characters tend to be gloomy and melancholy. I wouldn’t describe it as a feel good book and yet I didn’t feel sad while reading it and I could understand why so many people love this literary piece. The writing is beautiful and I feel like it just reels you in. I like how the narrative occasionally addresses the reader because it makes us part of the story. Here’s a sample of the writing, a section which I really liked:

“Do you think I am an automaton? β€” a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! β€” I have as much soul as you β€” and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you.”

While Jane Eyre didn’t top my favorite romantic classic, Pride and Prejudice, I still think it’s a very good read. Jane is a competent character – she’s smart and isn’t afraid to speak her mind, she’s reasonable and practical and she sticks to hear beliefs even when they go against what she wants. She’s the epitome of the inside being more important that the outside because she’s not really beautiful. She’s a vibrant person and so is Mr. Rochester. For me, the highlights of the novel are the interactions between the two – how they verbally spar and how they eventually develop affections for each other. I’m out of my element when it comes to reviewing classics because I don’t think I can do them justice. If you’ve read this (like so many of you have probably done), please let me know what you think. If you haven’t, I encourage you to give it a try.

14 thoughts on “Retro Friday: Jane Eyre

  1. You finished it already! I’ve still got 1/4 of the book to go. I’m not a “classics person” so it’s taking me a while to finish.:)

    I like that quote by the way, that was a bit of a heart-wrenching scene for me.

    • Celina, it took me a while to finish reading it too! I was just reading a free ebook version on my Kindle whenever I had free time. I decided to finish reading it already because I want to read Jane soon. πŸ™‚

      Yes, I love that scene! Let me know what you think when you’re done reading it. I hope you like it too.

  2. Love the photos (I want that edition), love the quote, love that you liked this! Dark but always hopeful – very true. Now you must watch the BBC adaptation pronto. πŸ™‚

    • I love how old school the book looks. It seems well-loved too. “Dark but always hopeful” is the perfect way to describe it! πŸ™‚

      Oh yeah, there’s a BBC adaptation! I almost forgot about it because I saw the 2011 movie trailer. Must hunt down the BBC series.

  3. I can never get enough of Jane Eyre, which I read when I was only 8. The impact was more powerful for having read it as a child. Then I identified with the child Jane as she grew up an orphan girl trying to adjust to a cruel world. I read it again in high school, and, of course, the romance part was more interesting.

    I understand you like retellings, Chachic. Sharon Shinn has a scifi based on Jane Eyre: Jenna Starborn. I read it twice also! πŸ˜›

    From Library Journal, on Amazon
    Conceived in the gen-tanks on the planet Baldus and rejected by the woman who commissioned her birth, Jenna Starborn finds a career as a nuclear generator technician on the inhospitable planet Fieldstar. At the estate of Thorrastone Park, Jenna finds solace and friendship in the household’s staff; she also succumbs to a forbidden attraction to the mysterious master of the house, Everett Ravenbeck, and finds her life changed forever. The author of the Samaria trilogy (Archangel, Jovah’s Angel, and The Alleluia Files) has adapted the classic plot of Jane Eyre, setting it in a distant future where money and status divide humanity into citizens and half-citizens, and where breaking social barriers becomes a near impossibility. This hybrid blend of sf drama and Gothic romance features a strong-willed, genuinely likable heroine and belongs in most sf collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

    • Looks like this one is a favorite of yours, Michelle. πŸ™‚ I really don’t understand why I didn’t read this when I was younger. Granted, it was never required as school reading but I know I read through most of the popular classics when I was in high school.

      LOL no need to tell me about Jenna Starborn, I already have a copy of it. I picked it up in Book Sale. Oh since you love Jane Eyre so much, I recommend that you read Jane by April Lindner too. πŸ™‚

  4. Oh, I love Jane Eyre. It’s been a few years now but I read it several times when a teenager. She’s such a real, likeable heroine. Like Artsablis, I think the childhood section affected me more when I first read it because I was so young still. I may have to dig this out and see if I still love it as much.

    • It’s funny that both of you liked the part when Jane Eyre was a child and I found it a little slow. Maybe if I read it when I was younger, I would’ve been able to relate to it more. I hope you get to reread it soon! πŸ™‚ You can also check out the retellings, Jane and Jenna Starborn.

  5. Pingback: Jane by April Lindner « Chachic's Book Nook

  6. Pingback: Jane Eyre | One More Page

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