Mel Staten's Reviews > Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2016

I unexpectedly fell in love with this book. When I started it, the book foisted upon me by a friend, I was skeptical. I knew nothing about Jane Eyre except that it was written by my least favorite Bronte (which was, to be fair, only based on a skimmed biography in Wuthering Heights). Indeed, Wuthering Heights was the only other Bronte book that I've read, and I consumed it eagerly. Thus, a lot of this review will, by necessity, be compared to Emily Bronte's work.

The book begins unimaginably slowly. Jane Eyre, an orphan being raised by an aunt who is only related by marriage, isn't liked by her adopted family and is treated very poorly. This leads to an incident that ultimately gets her sent to a school for disavowed girls, where the girls are, again, treated very poorly. While I understand that this section of the book was integral to understanding Jane's character, it goes on for far too long, with little reward. Her school years are only mentioned briefly in the rest of the book, and no character or event featured there is vital to the later plot.

With that said, I can understand why many readers would get disenchanted by this book before the magic even begins. After her stint at school, there is an eight year time skip, and we encounter Jane as she is ready to embark on a new chapter of her life. She puts out an ad in the paper, and becomes governess to a little girl at a house called Thornfield. Even here, the story lags, and I worried that it would never pick up. The interest doesn't really rally until Mr. Rochester (obviously the main love interest, here) is introduced, which occurs on page 155 in the edition I read. That's a good twenty percent of the book. Even then, there is a slow build toward the main events, and the story winds down unexpected paths in a very non-linear way.

(Mr. Rochester is kind of a dick, and their relationship is a bit puzzling. I can only refer to this Kate Beaton strip to properly explain).

I don't want to talk much about the plot beyond that point. It benefited me to go in blind, and I think that's the best way to proceed with this book, once past the more boring beginning. The plot is unexpectedly harrowing for such a book, the Brontes always surprise. Though far more cerebral than Wuthering Heights, by the end I understood why Jane Eyre is considered to be a classic more than any other Bronte work. In short, I must emphasize that crazy events happen in this book, comparable to those in Wuthering Heights. There's a deep mystery, deception, and a strong pull toward an extramarital affair. There are twists, some predictable and some much less so, there's begging and poverty and some allusions to (at the time socially acceptable) incest. There's religion, retribution, and a surprisingly bittersweet ending. It's an experience not to be missed.

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Reading Progress

March 18, 2016 – Started Reading
March 18, 2016 – Shelved
March 18, 2016 –
page 92
March 25, 2016 –
page 145
22.55% "Jane Eyre on ghosts: "'Yes -- "after life's fitful fever they sleep well,"' I muttered."\n Wanted to take note since this view differs so wildly from Emily Bronte's view of ghosts in Wuthering Heights. \n \n So far this is an interesting read, but not nearly as emotionally captivating as her sister's work."
March 29, 2016 –
page 166
25.82% "Man, the Brontes really like their men to be as rude as humanly possible."
March 30, 2016 –
page 194
30.17% "Pet peeve: when authors present a large amount of dialogue in another language, even when all speakers understand that language and thus there's no benefit to leaving the reader in the dark. And I have *some* background in French. This must be intolerable for people who don't. Whole paragraphs skipped."
April 1, 2016 –
page 386
60.03% "This book has finally become addictive, the past hundred or so pages have passed in a blur. The story has taken unexpected twists and turns, and I'm pleased to say I have no idea what's going to happen next. The whole thing has been very unconventional."
April 2, 2016 – Finished Reading
April 5, 2016 – Shelved as: 2016

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