book reviews

Book Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Title: Jane Eyre
p Author: Charlotte Bronte
Dates read: 25/01/22 – 04/02/22
Rating 1/5

Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of pages: 512
Fiction or non-fiction: fiction
Subject or genre: classics, romance, gothic

Book blurb: “Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt!”

Throughout the hardships of her childhood – spent with a severe aunt and abusive cousin, and later at the austere Lowood charity school – Jane Eyre clings to a sense of self-worth, despite of her treatment from those close to her. At the age of eighteen, sick of her narrow existence, she seeks work as a governess. The monotony of Jane’s new life at Thornfield Hall is broken up by the arrival of her peculiar and changeful employer, Mr Rochester. Routine at the mansion is further disrupted by mysterious incidents that draw the pair closer together but which, once explained, threaten Jane’s happiness and integrity.

A flagship of Victorian fiction, Jane Eyre draws the reader in by the vigour of Jane’s voice and the novel’s forceful depiction of childhood injustice, of the restraints placed upon women, and the complexities of both faith and passion. The emotional charge of Jane’s story is as strong today as it was more than 150 years ago, as she seeks dignity and freedom on her own terms.

In this new edition, Juliette Atkinson explores the power of narrative voice and looks at the striking physicality of the novel, which is both shocking and romantic.

How I discovered or acquired this book: Read for Open University module A112 Cultures, as part of the English Literature Block

Notable quotes Well, of course there’s Dear reader, I married him which is about the only thing I knew about the book going into it LOL
But then as I was reading, I realised I’d heard this one before: Do you think I am an automaton – a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obsure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?

My thoughts Ugh. Dreary as fuck, to be quite honest. So I knew going into it that it wasn’t my type of book, it’s mostly the narrative style, I have no patience for the sheer amount of words used, if that makes sense. Jane is an interesting enough character, but I don’t get the love for Rochester, I don’t feel it’s particularly romantic (I suspect books like this are why people think 50 Shades shit is romantic) and don’t get me started on fucking St John.
But there were definitely some interesting narrative devices – the switch from realism to gothic as Jane doesn’t know what’s happening, the use of pathetic fallacy. So I’m looking forward to writing the essay and wishing I had more words. But not my type of book, not one I would have chosen to read voluntarily and likely won’t read again!