Friday, January 21, 2011

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Completion Date: January 20, 2011
Reason for Reading: Buddy Read with Amanda from The Zen Leaf
An orphan girl's progress from the custody of cruel relatives to an oppressive boarding school culminates in a troubled career as a governess. Jane's first assignment at Thornfield, where the proud and cynical master harbors a scandalous secret, draws readers ever deeper into a compelling exploration of the mysteries of the human heart.
Finally! I have started this book several times and never managed to get through it. Thanks to my eReader, though, I finally managed to read through it. It took me longer than I expected, but I did really enjoy it. I always thought it was like Pride & Prejudice and I am not a big fan of that genre of books. I really liked the Gothic feel of this book. Until the last couple years I didn't know just how much a fan of the genre I was. It was just something that I didn't read enough. I read classics when I was university, but I haven't read many at all since. So, in 2011 I have decided to read a bit with Amanda. In February we are going to read North and South by Gaskell.

I think people may want to know what I thought about this book before reading it. I have to be honest, I knew it was about a governess and I thought there was a romance because Jane and Mr. Rochester, but that is all I knew. I just didn't pay attention, I guess. I knew I would read it eventually, but I wasn't sure when. The mystery behind the book really appealed to me as I got reading. I guess I was just expecting a straight romance, but there was a lot more to it than that. I never even imagined that there would be a mystery involved. I did gather that there was more to the story than met the eye as I got reading it, though. I was not really surprised when the story was revealed. I think I had expected it all along, or something along the same lines.

I couldn't help continuing to compare this book to Pride & Prejudice. What happened was I determined that I like this book better than P&P. I like the Gothic and the mystery feel of it. It made for really page-turning reading. That being said, I couldn't decide what I thought about the men involved in the story. St. John Rivers sounded interesting for a bit, but then he ended up really annoying me. I am not so keen on having religion thrown down my throat. Actually, having non-religion thrown down my throat, too. It is just not a theme that draws me to books and religion was a huge theme to the book. Obviously, it is something that was very important for the time, but it still annoyed me. As a result I found St John annoying. I know, I am small-minded, but his ideas entirely baffled me. I have no doubt he has people's best interests at heart, but he had a funny way about going about them.

Then, there was Mr. Rochester. The only man that I even though existed in the book. I was really intrigued by him because I had actually heard about him. I was rather surprised by what I found. When you compare him to St. John, for example, they are like exact opposites. I think I liked Rochester more because of the comparison to St. John. Rochester and St. John have suffered, but Rochester was tricked into suffering and St. John does it because of a religious calling. I actually felt bad for Rochester when his entire story was revealed. I understand that times were different, but it was still crazy what the poor man was put through and trapped into despite all of his money. I think that I appreciated Mr. Rochester more after meeting St. John, though. It made everything that happened afterwards more memorable if that makes any sense.

I left Jane Eyre for last. I have to say that I liked Elizabeth Bennett more, if I maintain my P&P comparison, but I still liked Jane Eyre for the most part. She annoyed me at times, though. I think Bronte was trying to write a strong female character, but even when she is in love with Rochester she still calls him her master. That bothered me. All these 'Sirs' and calling him by his last name while he is very familiar with her. I understand that in the beginning he outranks her, but even when they are supposedly equal she still treats him like her superior. Again, I understand that times were different, but it was still rather strange to me. The things that she says, though, are very opinionated and out-spoken, so she is not entirely hopeless in being a strong character. She almost struck me as a contradiction. Sometimes she annoyed me, but then a moment later she was an interesting character. Overall, I didn't really find it all that feminist in nature, but I do think that Bronte tried and I can't really fault her considering the time.

My thoughts are all over the place! Normally I like to think about a book a bit before reviewing it, but unfortunately it took me longer to read than I expected and lead to me being a bit late in getting my thoughts together. I do apologize because I think this review shows that. I did like Jane Eyre and I am finally glad I crossed it off my TBR list. Many thanks to Amanda for encouraging me to finally read it! Be sure and read her review.


  1. I love Jane Eyre, glad you enjoyed it!

  2. I'm glad we got to both post reviews even if they were both sort of thrown together at the last minute. :D Can't wait to read the next one together!

  3. Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorite books. Even so, I wasn't a fan of St. John either--or of Mr. Rochester. I'm much more a Mr. Darcy fan from Pride and Prejudice (another favorite book of mine). But I liked the depth of Jane Eyre most of all--of the story and the characters.

    I am glad you finally read this one, Kelly, and enjoyed it.

  4. I STILL haven't read Jane Eyre! I really need to read this book one day! Great reaview, Kelly :) I loved hearing your thoughts before and after the to see Amanda's thoughts!

  5. It's funny how people's reactions differ. I thought Jane was SUCH a strong character -- she acted subservient sometimes, with Mr. Rochester, but she never treats him as if she were actually subservient to him. She doesn't let him (or anyone) make her decisions for her. I'm crazy about her. :p

  6. Jane Eyre is a book I love, though you do point out a few flaws I have with it too - namely St John, who annoys me to no end too, and the Master part, which I understand, its' the class system over in Britain, but it still grates on my 21st century women are equal sensibilities. I'm always glad Charlotte felt the same way, even though that made her and this book well ahead of their times! I love the gothic feel of Jane Eyre too so much.

    That said, P&P far outweighs it in so many ways for me! I LOVE P&P and reread every 2 or 3 years. Elizabeth and Darcy are two of my favourite novel characters. So it's interesting to see how differently you and I react to these two books, when overall we like the same things!

    you remind me that I'd better find a copy of North and SOuth by Gaskell - I love the BBC production from a couple of years ago, but have yet to read the book.

    Isn't it so satisfying to read a classic and realize it is enjoyable after all? :-D I'm always relieved! lol

  7. I'm glad you gave it a chance! I really loved this book too. And I agree, there is so much there besides a straight romance. It's a complicated book with realistic complicated characters...

  8. It's my not-so-humble opinion that, like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, people are either Bronte fans or Austen fans. Some may think they like both, but when push comes to shove, there is always a preference for one over the other. I happen to be a Bronte person and have never been able to get into Austen.

    I'm glad you liked what is my all-time favorite book!

  9. The Jane Eyre books is my favorite from Charlotte Bronte. Villette and Shiley are must-read from her as well. :)


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