Book #01

Jane Eyre by Charlotte 

Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.

But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again?

Towards the end of 2021 I was in such a slump that no books on my list had any appeal. I wanted to read, but I enjoyed nothing. Being the type of reader I am, this was a sorry state to be in. There was nothing else I could do but look to an old friend, one I knew would look after me and help me enjoy reading again. After almost twelve years since I saw her last, I reunited with Jane.

And she was just as beautiful as I remembered; just as headstrong, just as admirable. Her journey through the pages is one of my favourite character developments within a novel, and just being with her, experiencing it all, is truly something to be grateful for.

As usual with rereads, I found myself reading with a maturity I didn’t have previously - twelve years is a long time, after all. I remember I used to find Jane somewhat infuriating; I couldn’t understand why she didn’t just grab life by the shoulders and reach for what she wanted. Having grown in mind since then, I can see how some things are difficult to grasp, whether due to your moral codes, your situation, your opinion of yourself, or your opinions of others. Rightly or wrongly, I felt for her, and I deeply related to her.

I also didn’t quite pick up on how incredibly gothic Jane is, and those elements were some of my favourites this time around. The brooding mystery of Thornfield, the ominous spectre of Bertha, the inexplicable bumps in the night - gorgeous.

Most importantly of all were the subtle feminist points here which totally bypassed me in 2010. Bronte has written Jane as an atypical Victorian heroine. She craves independence, her morals will not allow her any selfishness. Her idea of marriage is akin to being placed in a cage, of being beholden to a husband. When Rochester offers her luxury and finery, she is grossly disgusted and offended. Her intellect is shown to be equal to, and sometimes greater than, that of her male counterparts, and Bronte really takes pains to make this clear to us. She shuns social customs and gives us a protagonist who embodies everything the patriarchy are frightened of. My Jane. 

Reader, I’m happy. There really is nothing like going back to a book you have loved, only to discover more facets, and to realise you love it more than you ever thought possible. I’ll try not to wait as long before we meet again.