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Thoughts: Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

jane eyreJane Eyre has been one of my favorite books for more than ten years. I read it regularly as a teen, before I went to college. When I had to choose a book to read aloud from in my public speaking class, Jane Eyre was it, and nothing else quite matched it (until, of course, I read The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, and I’ve never been able to choose between them since!).

But when I went to college, many of my reading habits lapsed. I had friends constantly around and, while I still read, for about three years I read considerably less than I do now and than I did in high school. Rereading was the first to go, and I hadn’t read Jane Eyre in about six years. I knew I wanted to read it again, but it was hard to persuade myself to do so, with other review books stacking up and, finally, feeling financially comfortable enough to buy new books and support the publishing industry on a regular basis. Rereading still falls by the wayside.

Luckily, I received just the impetus I needed to read Jane Eyre again in the form of a lovely publicist, who let me know about a new series of pocket classic editions from White’s Books. All of them have new, lovely art and introductions commissioned just for them. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to receive a gorgeous new edition of this book, especially when it’s so lovely. And the edition is nice; the front and back of the book have appropriate, evocative art and the book fit right in my hands for easy reading. There’s even a little ribbon to mark my page. The font did happen to be a bit small, but I expected that out of something called a “pocket” edition. The publisher also sells more expensive, normal size versions; here’s their website for more. Here are a few of the book covers for this edition:

white's book covers

Anyway, as the book itself went, I loved it just as much this time. Mostly, I adore Jane herself; she’s such a passionate person even when she’s determined to hide it in herself. She doesn’t let people push her around and sticks by her morals even when she would rather do otherwise, to the point of turning aside from her own love. She lives on her own terms even as she relies on others for employment, as a woman in her position at the time had to do, and she actively seeks people who appreciate her for who she is, the people who don’t dismiss her for being a governess, teacher, poor relation, or younger student.

I’d forgotten so much of the Gothic atmosphere as well, with creepy, dark Thornfield, Jane’s many dreams, and how much the book has to say about religion – what is true faith and what is twisting Christianity to suit one’s own goals. I’m not surprised, but reading it now after four years of English literature classes and lots of classics read on my own, it really sticks out as a Victorian novel. The new introduction by Jacqueline Wilson was also a pleasure to read and picked out many points about the book’s treatment of Jane that I wouldn’t have considered on my own – just right for someone who’d read the book multiple times before.

Have you read Jane Eyre? What did you think of it? I know not everyone agrees with me and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I received this edition free from a publicist.

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