Jane Eyre

Today I finished reading

This superbly constructed story of the search for love of a heroine wishing to blend passionate physical needs with the emotional and spiritual aspects, bearing in mind the constraints of duty and a strong Christian faith, has rightly stood the test of time since its first bursting on the literary scene in 1847.

We are carried along with fluid prose at a breakneck speed. Bronte has full command of dialogue, and the thoughts of Jane as she struggles with her wishes and her sense of propriety. She experiences a lifetime of self denial. Humour is absent.

There have been so many filmed versions of the story that we all think we know it well. Knowledge of the finish could have affected my reading, but it really didn’t, and I hope not to give the game away in this review.

Our author has observant descriptive powers of place and person and uses this to good advantage in setting her scenes. This is lyrically demonstrated on the very first page: “A small breakfast room adjoined the drawing room. I slipped in there. It contained a book-case: I soon possessed myself of a volume, taking care that it should be one stored with pictures. I mounted into the window-seat: gathering up my feet, I sat cross-legged, like a Turk; and, having drawn the red moreen curtain nearly close, I was shrined in double retirement.

Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the left were the clear planes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves of my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale bank of mist and cloud; near, a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.”

The harsh weather is a constant feature reflecting the unrelenting cruel neglect of her childhood that gave her a sense of having no value to anyone, yet unable to quell her inner strength.

Fear of failure in “habituating [her]self to new rules and unwonted tasks” was to dog her adult life. Her such for love was apparently unsuccessful, partly because of the strong principles outlined in my second paragraph.

Throughout Jane’s time at Thornfield there is evidence of a dark secret during which we are misled into imagining a misleading source. Another secret concerning her upbringing emerges later.

There is no shortage of exciting activity. The wreck of a storm blasted chestnut tree; “the cloven halves…not broken from each other” becomes a prophetic metaphor by the end of the tale.

J.H.’s introduction puts the work in the context of the Brontes’ lives and time.

Anthony Colbert’s lithographs are evocative of the mood of the story.

This evening we dined on tender roast lamb; boiled new potatoes; firm broccoli and cauliflower, the chopped leaves of which produce cabbage; and crunchy carrots, with meaty gravy. I finished the Sangiovese and Syrah.

54 comments

  1. Thank you for this very detailed review Derrick. I also find d that the weather is almost a character in novels from that Era.

    1. Thank you very much, Sylvie. Yes, it is, perhaps in Bronte’s case reflecting the moors on which she grew up

  2. Thank you for the excellent review, Derrick. This is another classic I really should read. It’s the type of book I prefer to read in as few sittings as possible for an immersive experience.

  3. Thank you for this Derrick. I will try to read it. You have made me curious. I have never decided about reading it, but now I think I might.

    1. I think you would like it, Mimi – although it is a bit grim. Thank you very much

  4. A good book! A great review of it! And those illustrations…oh, my gosh…fabulous! 🙂 Thank you for sharing Jane Eyre with us! (I haven’t read it for too long. Should again soon.)
    (((HUGS))) ❤️❤️

  5. What a great review, Derrick! It’s some time since I first read it and you’ve made me want to pick it up again and read it through fresh eyes.

  6. It’s a long time since I read this book, and it appears to be another of mine that has gone missing.

  7. A wonderful and beautifully written review, Derrick. I read this years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the time spent.

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