It happened. I finally finished Jane Eyre. After starting it almost three months ago (you’re not the only one, slw) and renewing it twice, I turned the final page this morning. I had originally sought out the book because of the impending feature film with Mia Wasikowska. The trailers reminded me of how much I love time pieces, like Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Sense & Sensibility, the list can go on and on… The costumes and language and romance always makes me feel like I’m in a completely different world (which is nice when I am banging my head against the wall after reading the tenth article on social responsibilities of libraries and information services). It seemed that the movie would be the perfect excuse to read the book.
In my head I had always classified the Bronte sisters with Jane Austen, although academically, I knew that Austen was in the Romantic period, and the Brontes in the Victorian period. But in my mind, they were all British female authors from a long time ago when corsets were making waists tiny and men’s trousers gave us all a pretty picture. I was surprised, then, when I started Jane Eyre and found a completely different environment.
For those of you who have not read it, a quick synopsis: Jane, an orphan living with her terrible aunt and cousins (think Cinderella), has a strong imagination, or so she is told, that allows her to perceive ghosts/spirits/evil to the point where she makes herself ill. Her aunt, anxious to be rid of her, jumps at the chance to send her away to school, where she lives for many years, as a student and then a teacher. But after teaching for two years, Jane becomes bored and answers a call for a governess position at Thornfield Manor, where she is greeted by the housekeeper and a young energetic French girl, Adele. It is quite a while before Jane meets her employer, a dark and handsome man (obviously), Mr. Rochester. Secretly, Jane finds herself falling in love with him (duh), and much to her surprise, he seems to return the feeling. But strange things start happening at Thornfield: one night Jane saves Mr. Rochester from a fire in his room; on another she keeps watch over a wounded friend of Rochester’s while he attends to the mysterious assailant; and once Jane wakes to find some strange creature in her room trying on her things. And the whole time, the reader is like, WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON? At least…I was. And when you do find out what’s going on, you’ll still be like, WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?
Despite the fact that it took me three months to read (I had about 12 other books to read during that time, I promise!), this classic text is a page-turner, spurred on by Jane’s somewhat sassy narrative in which she often addresses the reader directly, justifying the somewhat unbelievable events of her story to make them utterly convincing. I’m glad I stuck it out, even though the MOVIE NEVER CAME TO MY TOWN. Guess I’ll have to wait for the RedBox, and in the meantime, watch the trailer over and over.