Sep 12, 2008

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Better late than never, right? I've done it. I read Jane Eyre at last. And what did I think, you wonder? Well, it’s going straight to my list of favourite classics.

We first meet Jane Eyre when she is ten years old, an orphan living with her maternal uncle’s widow, Mrs Reed, and her three cousins. I liked her immediately – plain, passionate, lonely, thoughtful, intelligent and independent Jane Eyre. We then follow her to a boarding school, Lowood Academy, where she remains for six years as a student and two more as a teacher. And then to Thornfield Hall, where she is employed as a governess to little Adèle, and eventually falls in love with her employer, Mr Edward Rochester.

As I said, I really liked Jane Eyre herself. I liked the fact that she’s both impetuous and sensible; I liked her independence of heart and mind. I liked the fact that she’s true to herself and chooses to live her life on her own terms, accepting nothing lees. I liked her intelligence, her curiosity and her passion.

I also liked Mr Rochester, even with all his flaws. Or perhaps because of his flaws – they made him more human. You know, I think I actually preferred him to Mr Darcy. And I don’t mean to turn this into a Jane Austen vs Charlotte Brontë sort of post, but since I got started, let me just say that while I think I prefer Jane Austen’s writing, Jane Eyre feels closer to my heart.

Then there are all the lovely gothic elements – Thornfield Hall, the voices and premonitions, the things that wander in the night. I knew the answer to the biggest mystery from the beginning (I read and loved Wide Sargasso Sea a few years back, and plus this is one of those spoilers that are almost impossible to avoid), but the story still held quite a few surprises for me. And if on the one hand knowing made the strange nighttime occurrences less ghostly and mysterious, on the other hand it allowed me to pay attention to little signs and clues that I would otherwise have missed.

And mystery or no mystery, I found the story completely gripping, and I read this book much faster than I had imagined I would. I did lose a bit of interested towards the end, when Jane is staying at Moor House, but that was because I took quite a dislike to St John – he was so authoritative, so cold. But anyway, the last two chapters hooked me again.

Now that I’ve read Jane Eyre, I can pick up The Thirteenth Tale and catch all the references that I keep hearing about. But I wonder if I should wait for Rebecca to arrive and read that one first too.

A few favourite passages:
Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.

"He is not to them what he is to me," I thought: "he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine;--I am sure he is--I feel akin to him--I understand the language of his countenance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him. Did I say, a few days since, that I had nothing to do with him but to receive my salary at his hands? Did I forbid myself to think of him in any other light than as a paymaster? Blasphemy against nature! Every good, true, vigorous feeling I have gathers impulsively round him. I know I must conceal my sentiments: I must smother hope; I must remember that he cannot care much for me. For when I say that I am of his kind, I do not mean that I have his force to influence, and his spell to attract; I mean only that I have certain tastes and feelings in common with him. I must, then, repeat continually that we are for ever sundered:- and yet, while I breathe and think, I must love him."
Reviewed at:
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words by Annie
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(Let me know if I missed yours)


  1. What you must read now, of course, if The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.

  2. Oh, one of my favorite characters and books ever!! I love this book so much. What fun. I should read this Thirteenth Tale too... and you will love Rebecca. I want to re-read that sometime this fall.

  3. I was thinking what Jennie said - you'll get a kick out of that, definitely.

    This is one of my favorite books ever. I picked it up when I was a kid, not realizing it was a "classic" and was hooked from the get-go. I am glad you enjoyed it so much!

  4. Thank you for your review - it has inspired me to read Jane Eyre. I've also seen a lot of positive reviews of The 13th Tale, although I have no idea what it's about. I'll have to read that one, too.

  5. I really should read Jane Eyre but am somewhat reluctant to because of learning so much about it through reading The Eyre Affair and The Thirteenth Tale. I'm sure I would still enjoy it even though I remember the ending pretty well.

  6. This is one of those books I know I should read, but just can seem to bring myself to do. A good friend of ours bought this for Annie last summer because it's her favorite book, but Annie hasn't read it yet either. I have to say, I think you just managed to wipe away my previous reluctance though. And hey, I'll even be surprised because clueless me doesn't have any idea about what the ending has to bring.

  7. I LOVED Jane Eyre -- what a great soul. And the romance with Mr Rochester just smoulders (couldn't stand St John, who was such a cold fish). Think I'm going to read The Thirteenth Tale next.

  8. Oh I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! I just rewatched the movie last week. Must reread this one sometime for sure.

  9. I'm watching the movie (checked out from the library) this week. It's good. And that plus your review is really making me want to drop everything and pick this book up :)

  10. Skip the Eyre Affair and read Rebecca; it's a far better book.

  11. Well done! you read my favourite Classic ever! I'm happy you loved it too. Now that you make me think about it, I too lost interest with the whole St john part. Everything else was absolutely gripping and intense and sooo romantic:)
    now you're ready for The Eyre Affair!

  12. Yay! You read it and found a new favorite! I can't believe I waited this long to read it either. :) And thanks for linking me. I linked to yours as well.

  13. It's been years since I read Jane Eyre and Rebecca that I feel I may be due a re-read next year. Glad you enjoyed it for the most part.

  14. Ah, I thought I'd be quicker to the draw than this, but I'll have to add my recommendation for Fforde's The Eyre Affair. It's a riot!

  15. I, too, had put off reading this for a while, but then when I finally picked it up it quickly became one of my favourites. Funny how that happens, eh? It's one of those books that you will go back to time and again and it will never get dull. Happy that you've had a chance to discover how wonderful this one is. :)

  16. I haven't read this book in years, but my husband and I watched a film version not too long ago. Already knowing the story, I enjoyed the atmosphere and mystery Jane felt. My husband experienced the suspense quite differently, not knowing what was "going bump in the night" so to speak.

  17. Jane Eyre is a wonderful book! So glad you finally got around to reading it!! And I'm so glad you loved it too!

  18. Hey Nymeth! Great review! I've been meaning to read if for so long but just never get around to it.

    I'm creating a new pile called To Be Read Soon (REALLY Soon). Need to transfer Jane Eyre from TBR pile...

  19. I agree with the others who said you should read The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. Reading it with Jane Eyre fresh in your mind would be very fun. Course that would add another series to your project! :P

  20. Jane Eyre's a really cool book, don't you think? It's also one of my favourite classic reads. I loved the movie starring John Hurt and Anna Paquin too! Have you watched it?

    Here's my review of Jane Eyre. :)

  21. Oops, the actor's name's William Hurt. My bad. :D

  22. I still haven't read this!!! Nya!!!

    But I've read Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair :P That's why I know the story already :P

  23. Jennie, I plan to!

    Daphne: I can't wait for Rebecca to arrive. I mooched it a couple of weeks ago so it should be here soon.

    Darla, I can see why this is a favourite of yours. I was surprised that it hooked me the way it did! I think this is one of the most readable classics I've read encountered so far.

    Charley, I hope you enjoy it! I keep hearing that The Thirteenth Tale is a book for book lovers, so I'm really looking forward to reading it. I'll let you know what I think in a couple of weeks!

    Carl, I knew a lot about the story because of Wide Sargasso Sea, including the ending, and I still really enjoyed it. I think you would too!

    Debi: It's great that you don't know, it means you'll enjoy it even more! I look forward to seeing what you and Annie think of it.

    Pardon my French: I totally agree :) I look forward to reading your thoughts on The Thirteenth Tale.

    Heather, I haven't seen any of the movie adaptations, but I'm curious about them now.

    Becky, I think you'll really enjoy it :)

    Pussreboots: I plan on reading both! Rebecca first, though.

    Valentina, you know what I loved about it? The fact that the love story was romantic and intense, but not excessive in a way that makes it less than credible. That was one of the reasons why I couldn't get into Wuthering Heights. It was just...too much. But Jane Eyre was perfect.

    Chris: I really did :)

  24. Amanda, thanks!

    Rhinoa: I really did, and even St John was interesting in a I-love-to-hate-him sort of way. I really look forward to reading Rebecca.

    Christine, I look forward to reading it!

    Court: It is funny :) I definitely can see myself revisiting this one in the future.

    Jeane: I envy your husband! I wish I'd had been able to read it without knowing. But it was fun anyway.

    Stephanie, indeed it is!

    Alice, I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did!

    tanabata: Nooooooo! I'd actually forgotten it was part of a series :P Ah well, if it takes me long to get to it I can always re-read Jane Eyre first.

    Josette, thanks for the link! I haven't watch it, no. But I really like Anna Paquin so I'll look for it for sure.

    Lightheaded: I knew the story too, for the most part, but it was still great fun. I think you'll enjoy it too.

  25. Yay! I'm glad you loved it. It's one book I fully intend to re-read one of these days.

  26. great review! I havent read it yet, but did like the film version.
    I like it when stories have a gothic element to them, especially classics like this one.

  27. I'm so glad you liked it! It's one of my favorite books ever ... and had such an impact on me the first time I read it.

  28. This is my favorite book! I'm so glad you liked it too :-) It's definitely one that you can read more than once and it's because of all of those little things that you catch when you know the whole story. I think that's what good writing is all about - it's fascinating no matter how many times you read it!

  29. I need to reread Jane Eyre, but I have no idea when I'll ever manage to squeeze it in. It's a great book -- so glad you enjoyed it!

  30. Oh, I'm so glad this was a winner for you!! This is also one of my favorite classics (although you know I prefer Wuthering Heights). Maybe I should re-read them both and let the sisters duke it out. :)

    Yes, good book to have read for The Thirteenth Tale! I think you could figure out a lot of the references without it, but it does add a lot, I think. Haven't read Rebecca, but I'm beginning to think I should have hearing so much about it.

  31. I love Jane Eyre. I think its my favourite classic, up there with Persuasion. Mr Rochester is by far my favourite classical male figure..I've always had a thing for grumpy men!!

    I didn't realise The Thirteenth Tale has references to Rebecca..I'd better read Rebecca first then! You definitely should read The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde..fabulous start to an excellent series.

  32. "Jane Eyre" is hands down, my favorite classic. I fell in love with this back when I read in high school and it only gets better by the year.

    I had no idea there were references to "Jane Eyre" in "Thirteenth Tale"! I'm in the process of reading that now, and knowing that there will be "Jane Eyre" references makes it so much better (even though it's already pretty good :).

    I agree with everyone else. Jasper Fforde's "The Eyre Affair" is pretty awesome. You'd love it!

  33. The Thirteenth Tale is on my TBR list and I had no idea about the Jane Eyre references. I loved Jane Eyre when I read it in college, and I bet I'd love it even more if I had time to read it now! I'll have to check out The Eyre Affair and Wide Sargasso Sea now.

  34. I haven't read Jane Eyre since I was a teenager. I know back then I was so smitten I couldn't think of anything else for days. Time for a reread I think but will probably read The Thirteenth Tale first.

  35. I'm so envious of you reading Jane Eyre for the first time! I read it for the first time when I was nine, I think, and it's been one of my favorites ever since. And yes, you should read Rebecca now. I read Rebecca every time I finish Jane Eyre, because otherwise I would go into withdrawal.

    (Don't take this moment to read Wuthering Heights, though. You will never enjoy it if you read it straight after Jane Eyre.)

  36. I read this a long time ago and really liked it. I might have to re-read it someday soon since I can't remember too much from it now.

  37. Andi, me too!

    Naida, so do I. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And from what you said, it sounds like you will.

    Robin: I can see why :)

    Andrea, I agree.

    Bookfool: These days I have less and less time to revisit old favourites, so I know what you mean. It's something I need to try and make time for, though, because there are books I find myself missing a lot. But then there are all those new and shiny books calling to me from the shelf..

    Trish: I also think I would get the references, especially because I already knew the story, but it'll be more fun this way!

    Mariel, I loved his grumpiness! I'm not sure of how much of Rebecca there is in The Thirteenth Tale. Comparisons have been made, but I know that many people have enjoyed one without having read the other. But I bet that reading both will add to the fun.

    J.S. Peyton: I'm not sure if they're direct references or a similar mood or what, but I look forward to finding out. I'm glad to hear you're enjoying it so far!

    Anna: Wide Sargasso Sea retells Jane Eyre from Bertha's perspective. It's an incredibly sad book, but one I really enjoyed.

    Cath: I hope you enjoy it just as much the second time around!

    Jenny, good point. And I'll read Rebecca as soon as my copy arrives. Hopefully that'll be next week.

    Ladytink: I bet not remembering much will make the re-read even more enjoyable.

  38. Great review, Nymeth! (Well, you always write great reviews!) ;)

    Well, I must be the last person who haven't read this book yet!!! Gotta love all these classic, eh? I'm really looking forward to reading it one day soon.

  39. It's lovely to hear that you enjoyed Jane Eyre! I recently reread Wuthering Heights - the Bronte sisters definitely have a lot going on.

  40. I don't get Wuthering Heights either!I couldn't stand either of the two lovers:P
    and now that you make me think about it, when I read Jane Eyre the first time I didn't know what was going to happen. I was young and I had never heard of it before, to be honest. Maybe that's why I loved it so much. It was my discovery and only later I had to do it for my English classes.

  41. Melody: Aww, thank you. And no, I bet you're not the last! I hope you enjoy it when you get to it.

    bookchronicle: I need to re-read that one. It's been far too long.

    Valentina: I wish I had read it without knowing anything at all about it. I bet that makes it even more enjoyable. I read Wuthering Heights something like 10 years ago, so I have no idea what I'd think these days, but that was my impression at the time, yep.

  42. Read Rebecca before you come back to this one. I've always liked Jane Eyre even when those around me had all sorts of criticism for it. I found it haunting and satisfying and many images have stayed with me over the years.

  43. Well, you're not the only person that hadn't read Jane Eyre. I still haven't. I definitely must remedy that soon especially after hearing about the allusions in The Thirteenth Tale.

  44. Terri B, my copy of Rebecca arrived just yesterday, so I'll be getting to it very soon!

    Lisa: I'm glad I'm not the only one :P I hope you find it as enjoyable as I did.

  45. Love this one! I think this book was pretty much one of my favorites as well. Very intriguing, start to finish. There's a great BBC adaptation I loved and have seen at least twice now.

  46. I loved this book. I wasn't sure if I would, because I hated Wuthering Heights, but the sisters don't write anything alike. Jane Eyre has become one of my favorites.

  47. I'm so glad you liked it! It's one of my favorites too!

    I never tire of the story. I think I have seen every movie adaptaptation ever done as well.

  48. I watched Jane Eyre 11 years ago and never read the book until this last month. I loved the book, it was far better than the movie but that is usually how that goes.

    I really liked reading your review. I liked your favorite quotes.


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