Friday, January 8, 2010

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

I finally have read Jane Eyre! I think I probably attempted to read it at some point in my life before, but never finished or got into the story.
I truly don't know why I have never read this novel because it immediately drew me in this time. Perhaps it is because I skimmed the synopsis on Cliff's Notes (.com) before starting! ha ha! No, I did not ruin any surprises, because that is impossible to do for me. I do NOT enjoy plot twists that take me totally off guard, it actually ruins a book (or movie) for me because I get so freaked out by them that I end up hating the book.... so to me, to know the "surprising twist" is to make it more enjoyable for me...I know..I am weird!

So...on to Jane Eyre. I actually read this book over three days. It is a slow time for me because we haven't started back homeschooling for 2010 and I am not currently leading a book for my other book club, so I have plenty of time to devote to it. Also, my husband just went out of town for business, so the evening last night was totally mine till 2am when I finished the novel!

For anyone who happens to have not read the book, here is a snippet from the back:

"Jane Eyre begins life as a lonely orphan in the household of her hateful aunt. Despite the oppression she endures at home, and the later torture of boarding school, Jane manages to emerge with her spirit and integrity unbroken. She becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she finds herself falling in love with her employer-the dark, impassioned Mr. Rochester. But an explosive secret tears apart their relationship, forcing Jane to face poverty and isolation once again."

I enjoyed the fact that this novel began when Jane was ten years old and did not skip any time periods in her life, telling the complete story with no jumps. I mean, of course it doesn't tell day by day, but many novels attempting to tell a life story will skip and only tell one major period, either childhood, adolescence, or teen/adulthood. Going through each stage, I could see how Jane's character changed yet stayed the same in many ways. How her thoughts, though similar, were more matured throughout her life. I have to say that the circumstances that arose in the last part of the book were pretty far-fetched in the way it all worked out, but that is what is so great about these types of books as well...all the twists coming together like a soap opera. The more I think about it, the more I see similarities between this novel and plots I have seen played out on soaps. Maybe they use old Victorian novels for their inspiration sometimes!

My favorite era was when Jane was homeless and poor and begging for food, then taken in by the Rivers' family. I liked that Jane was able to completely be herself and finally have "girlfriends" who were honest and loving.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and think that the plot, though "soapy" was interesting and well thought out. Even the names chosen for each character, I thought, were well planned and suited to their roles in the book. Though it had twists, the ending easy in coming and did not wrap up too quickly like many novels do at the end.

Oh, one more thing I meant to say about Agnes Grey as well. I got the versions of the Bronte books I am reading from Barnes and Noble. They were having a "buy two get one free" sale on their Barnes and Noble Classics editions, so I got all three Bronte books for $11. I am really enjoying these versions of the books because they include footnotes on every page that explain any out of date terms or words. For example, Jane Eyre uses the term "surtout*" and the footnote explains that it means "overcoat." Also, it gives notes when a word that is used that has changed meaning over time, like when she writes, "What, in short, is his character*" The footnote explains: "Here meaning moral qualities or reputation, rather than personality in the modern sense."
These notes make the reading so much more enjoyable because there would be so many terms that I would have no clue what they mean without research (especially with household objects and vernacular terms) and some things I would misunderstand because the meaning would have been different when the novel was written.

When I finished the book, I found an instant play version that I could watch on netflix. It was a very long BBC episodic version, so I just chose a few episodes to see some of the key parts played out. It was okay, but I thought the girl who played Jane overacted. Her hair also annoyed seemed like it wasn't put together well, but I guess that may have been realistic? It did stick very closely to the book, word for word in fact, but I just didn't love it because the scenery wasn't very elaborate and the acting just not as good as it should have been for such a rich story. Her clothes were awful too! I know she was supposed to be plain, but they could have at least tried to make her a little attractive since she is the heroine of a romance novel! ha!
I have another version in my queue to watch, but I have to wait on it to be mailed, so maybe that one will be better!


Elizabeth said...

I know what you mean about books that skip around in character's lives - somehow, I always feel like I've missed something. Glad you enjoyed this one!

Michelle said...

I, too, feel guilty about never having read this book! It's on my shelf to read this year as part of the 451 challenge.

We'll see how I like it!

Bekah said...

I Love Jane Eyre. I've read it more than once. I've watched a televised version before and it was not that great.