I think my first read of "Jane Eyre" took place some time in early or middle of the teens. It was an Estonian-language hardcover copy (an ugly blue plain cover that gives you no idea of what the book might be about) that I snatched from my grandmother's bookshelf (my grandmother has a huuuuuuuuuuge library, but that is a topic that deserves a post of it's own). I definitely read it in summer, because books that I took from those shelves I read while spending vacation at grandmother's. I liked the story, but it didn't cause any life-changing or wow-effect.
I think my mum saw me read, and said something along the lines "This is a very good book". I think that is one of the only few book-related conversations me and my mother have had. She didn't used to read that much, and now that she does, our preferences in literature don't have much common ground.
Thus, having finished this book now, at the age of 30, I actually went to Goodreads and changed my rating to five stars. Because this book deserves it.
And what an interesting thing. Back in my teens, reading "Jane", I only remember the story. And some fragments of characters, because, well, they are kind of strongly painted. Reading this time, the plot was way in the background and the focus was just drawn to the characters and especially the language/dialogues. That just makes you think... all those books I read when I was younger, maybe one should pay another visit.
Back to the book. I have to confess that I have always been a bit puzzled when (female) readers, let's say, swoon over (male) characters and romances in novels. Secretly I wish I could do that too, but I can't, and I have accepted the fact that there is probably something wrong with me in that sense :p Maybe it means I don't relate enough, maybe it means romances aren't just that big of a deal for me. I do have a lovely boyfriend myself and I need to be taken care of, in real life, but I never look for it in books. (Maybe if it was a yummi very tragic and not-happy ending story...) So, given that, many have taken fancy of the romance in this particular novel and the male lead character. It does trigger my interest that both Jane E and Edward R are described to be plain and not that comely in their looks. I think that is refreshing to read nowadays (especially when put next to all these TV-things that 99% feature "beautiful people"; yes, let's not get into the concept/definition of beauty here). I can relate to Jane when she thinks
And was Mr Rochester now ugly in my eyes? No, reader: gratitude, and many associations, all pleasurable and genial, made his face the object I best liked to see; his presence in the room was more cheering than the brightest fire. /p. 128/
Yes, many associations are those that combine beauty, for me.
It's very difficult not to love Jane's character. She is an excellent role model, without being preachy or coming off fake. Just take a look at that little scene with Jane and Edward in the clothing store:
With anxiety I watched his eye rove over the gay stores: he fixed on a rich silk of the most brilliant amethyst dye, and superb pink satin. I told him in a new series of whispers, that he might as well buy me a gold gown and a silver bonnet at once: I should certainly never venture to wear his choice. /p. 236/
Bang! My kind of girl :)
However. May Edward R be what he is (with all the sneakiness and madwoman-affair), I actually started appreciating him a whole lot more after meeting the character called St John. Oh boy... He just made my hormones go all the wrong ways.
"[...] I shall be absent a fortnight - take that space of time to consider my offer: and do not forget that if you reject it, it is not me you deny, but God.[...]" /p. 362/
he writes in a note to Jane after having proposed. And what follows is
He did not leave for Cambridge the next day, as he had said he would. He deferred his departure a whole week, and during that time he made me feel what severe punishment a good yet stern, a conscientious yet implacable man can inflict on one who has offended him. Without one overt act of hostility, one upbraiding word he contrived to impress me momently with the conviction that I was put beyond the pale of his favour. /p. 363/
PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE MUCH? Yeah, I have issues with passive-aggressive people, even if they appear only in a book... Not to mention I can't really quite fathom such behaviour from any person claiming to be pious... So yes, story around St John did creep me out good while.
All in all, it was a cozy read. I think it'd make a pretty good comfort book. Language is at times lush and also sharp as a surgeon's knife, and the story itself doesn't drag nor hurry overly. If I should one day have a little girl of my own, I'd definitely stick this one in her hands first, over "Hunger Games" and whatnot other popular modern day books :)
I'm a Jane Eyre fan from way back.ReplyDelete
You're right St John is just plain creepy.
I never raved over Rochester either, but took heart from the idea that there really is someone special for everyone!!
I agree, and I also think Rochester had some qualities I personally like. For one thing, he wasn't actually boring. Most of the time I think he said what he thought and was quite outspoken. Just the tiny little problem of tricksing someone into a marriage is something I can't look past. It may be that he was just a cowardish type of person, or it may be that he knew Jane well enough to predict how she would handle the truth and just didn't want to let her go.Delete
Another thing, let's say the accident didn't happen and the attic inhabitant was still there a year later. How would it have turned out then, what would Jane have done? Questions, questions. :)
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I love JE, though agree it leaves the reader with lots of questions. I never thought to think of it as a comfort book; maybe that's why I love it so.ReplyDelete
I think many books we read in childhood/teens and like a lot have a huge potential to become comfort books, thanks to the combination of enjoyable reading experience and general nostalgia towards the past times :) And "Jane E" has a happy ending (kind of...) so that's why I think it makes a good comfort book. Thanks for stopping by!Delete
I recently finished Jane Eyre for the first time and loved it. I liked your discussion about romance in the book because it seemed to me that a lot of emphasis is placed on the romance between Jane and Mr. R, but on the reading the book I felt their romance was the least interesting part of the story. I didn't think Mr. R was right for her, but agree with Brona Joy that there's someone special for everybody!ReplyDelete
Interesting thoughts. I read your review on Jane Eyre too some time ago, now that I think of it.Delete
I think with Jane Eyre most people think of "romance" first but as I also said romance is rarely the focus of my own attention in books (if it can be avoided). However, I found the relationship between J and R kind of interesting on other levels (kind of small powerfights and whatnot instead of some lame insta-love). But also, as I said somewhere up there, I was uneasy on the whole love story because "what if" the situation in the end had been different, let's imagine that Madwoman was still there, for example - what would have happened then? True love is supposed to conquer all and so on, but I really can't imagine how this situation would have been resolved then, if divorce was anyway out of question. There is definitely so much more in this book than love story! :)