by Charlotte Bronte
‘ll start off strongly recommending this Penguin edition.
Firstly I loved the cover
– even though I doubt that Jane ever wore pink.
This edition was also very well annotated. I don’t think I have ever made such good use of notes at the back of a work of fiction.
&, last but not least, I read Michael Mason’s very good introduction after I completed the book as I have had too many reads ruined for me by spoiler filled introductions (looking at you Martin Edwards) While not at the Edwardian (heh) level of spoilers, I still think I made the right choice. This was a very thoughtful introduction, that made the point;
Jane Eyre is a novel which it’s readers tend to remember inaccurately at certain points. It may not be mis-remembered more than other novels, but it is mis-remembered more conspicuously than most…
I think this is very true. I have no memory of [Jane’s desperate flight from Thornfield Hall, & her cousins, the Rivers family. My memory of this book is so much more… um chaste that I’m wondering if my previous readings (all over forty years ago) were abridged/censored editions. I was certainly unprepared for the passion in this book.
So I started the book fully prepared for the self-righteous Victorian cruelty to the orphaned Jane, I think I expected the rectitude but was unprepared for the passion. Rochester & Jane’s declaration of love for each other are truly beautiful. Jane remains true to herself and her beliefs throughout except when St John (who I personally really disliked) was doing a form of Christian grooming on Jane. To be honest, I welcomed this (in a literary sense) as the book after Jane runs away from Rochester became a little dull.
Other flaws were a bit earlier. Rochester [ dressing as a fortune teller – that was a little silly. & Charlotte, as a storyteller, just about ties herself in knots trying to explain Rochester’s pursuit of Miss Ingram. Rochester never looks more unappealing then he does when he tries to explain that to Jane. & frankly, like Heathcliff, Rochester never looks that appealing to me. If any of the Bronte’s ever wrote a male lead that didn’t look like an arrogant sod, please let me know.
While I didn’t totally love this book I admire it enormously -so ahead of its time! & in parts I was totally enthralled. The one thing I didn’t stop doing was admiring Jane.