Thursday, July 15, 2010

Book Review: Jane Eyre

I've been immersed in England of the Victorian era as I devoured Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë over the past few days. I first rented the movie from Netflix (which was in two parts so I had to wait for part II after I returned part I, just like watching it on PBS where you have to wait a week between episodes) and watched that. It was the 2006 Masterpiece Theater version starring Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson and was quite good. I've also seen the version with William Hurt. There are seven different versions available through Netflix; a couple of the others look familiar so I know I've seen more of them. I don't remember ever reading the book until now, however. I never considered myself a Brontë fan; too dark and brooding for me. I prefer the sparkle, lightness and wit of Jane Austen, who died when Charlotte Brontë was a year old.

I have to admit I've changed my mind. Oh, Jane Austen is still my favorite, but Charlotte Brontë is pretty awesome as an author. Jane Eyre grabbed me; I couldn't stand to put it down. I was even considering taking my walk with my Kindle in hand but thought better of it. (I used to read as I walked through the halls at school, after all.) The story has dark elements, which is what I was put off by in the past, but it has so much more. The darkness is outweighed in the happiness the title character manages to find for herself, and it ends well. And the love story; the passion, the romance! Love it, love it, love it. Mr. Rochester is totally hot. He's all male, but still compassionate and tender when it comes to Jane. He is flawed but his flaws make him that much more desirable. I hated for it to end! It's left me in that post-book fog; I long for Victorian England. (DH managed to benefit; don't tell him he was playing my Mr. Rochester last night.)

As I say to The Eldest, (until she says "YES, MOTHER, YOU'VE SAID THAT ALREADY") the classics are classics for a reason, and that's because they are GOOD. Jane Eyre is no exception. I'm glad I finally carved out the time to read it. I find I enjoy the classics so much more now as an adult. I have a deeper understanding of what I'm reading and, after having read all of Jane Austen's works, a better grasp of the language and customs of that period in history. (But I did make use of the dictionary feature on my Kindle a number of times; what a vocabulary!)

I'm hoping to make time for more reading this summer. The Eldest made a habit of re-reading the Harry Potter books every year around Halloween for several years in a row; I'd like to re-read my favorite classics the same way. Well, maybe not yearly, but every few years. I am hoping to delve into a few of Jane Austen's novels and watch the BBC six hour mini-series version of Pride and Prejudice, the one with Colin Firth, before the summer is over. (That's the definitive version, of course; the 2005 movie with what's her name is pitiful.) As for a way to relax and rejuvenate, I'll take Jane Austen and Colin Firth over a trip to the spa any day!

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