Friday, May 08, 2009

Jane Eyre...random thoughts

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

I finally finished Jane Eyre. Okay, so I finished it days ago, but I've been a bit lazy about posting about it. Frankly, I just don't know what to say. I would like to be able to tell you that my irrational fear of 19th century British lit has now been conquered, but I see no point in lying. While I did enjoy this book far more than I ever would have guessed, I don't see that any passion has been kindled in me or anything.

Okay, back to this book...yes, it was a delightful surprise. I love Jane Eyre, the character. Seriously adored her. Wished time after time that I had her poise and patience, and even more, her independence and self-assurance. She won my heart completely.

Now as for her two "love interests" it awful of me to say that I didn't particularly like either one of them? Tough. I didn't. Is it because I take the opportunities available for women today so much for granted that I can't quite appreciate that times were different then? Maybe. But I found Mr. Rochester to be horribly manipulative. There were actually many things about him I did like, but I have a thing about manipulation, and it just left me unable to truly trust him. Anyway, at least he truly loved Jane, which puts him a fair step ahead of St. John. Yes, St. John was a good and pious man. But I cannot stomach someone who believes they can possibly know the "only" righteous path in life for someone else. Whatever. Honestly, I'm just not much of a romance fan, so maybe that's why I had trouble with both of these men.

Truthfully, for me the best part of the book was the beginning. I loved reading about Jane's childhood. Not that her childhood was in the least bit enviable, of course. But this part of the story sucked me right in. I loved watching Jane grow up, find herself, trust herself, stand up for herself. I loved her friendship with Helen. (And despite the fact there was no missing what was coming, I bawled like a baby during one part.)

Another thing I loved about the book was the haunting atmosphere that pervaded Thornfield, even during the happier times. While not downright creepy, there was certainly a bit of a sinister feeling. And yes, the "secret" was a big part of what I enjoyed about this book, too.

And you know what, it's funny...there were a couple of too big to believe coincidences in the story. In another book, I think they would have driven me to distraction. Driven me crazy. But for whatever reason, I found them only mildly annoying here. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I suppose it can be counted a good thing. And overall, I can count many more good things about this book than I can bad. I am very glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave this book a go. (But no, neither Jane Austen nor Charles Dickens is next on my reading list. Sorry. Sophistication simply doesn't run in my blood.)


Other opinions (all of which are undoubtedly more coherent expressed than mine):

Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot
Becky at Becky's Books Reviews
Raidergirl3 at An Adventure in Reading
Melissa at Book Nut
Matt at A Guy's Moleskin Notebook
Alyce at At Home With Books
Tammy at Tammy's Book Nook
Rebecca Reid at Rebecca Reads

Please forgive me if I missed yours. And do leave a link in the comments, and I will happily add it to the list. Thanks.


Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

I wasn't a huge fan of Rochester when I read this book either. I totally agree -- there's something about manipulation that really pushes my buttons. I want to like him because Jane likes him and I like Jane, but it's hard.

I'm glad you wrote that though; I sometimes worry I'm the only person who doesn't like Rochester all the time!

Amanda said...

I love this book, and I admit, I love Rochester. He's the most interesting and realistic fictional character I've ever read. I didn't find him manipulative, but instead just to have a strange sense of humor.

Staci said...

too bad that sophistication doesn't run in your blood because you wrote one heck of a review there lady!! I double-dog dare you to read Austen!!

Trish said...

I didn't ever really like her love interests either. When I mentioned something about not liking Rochester I felt like I got the stink eye (something about him just rubbed me the wrong way).

Isn't Jane such a wonderful character? I always really liked her. Great random thoughts, Debi--you capture a lot of the spirit of the book here and it makes me want to re-read it!

Dawn said...

I think I remember almost reading that book once ☺. I do believe it is one that I hope to read someday. You can make any book sound interesting.

take care,

Rebecca Reid said...

I just read this and reviewed it too!

My review is here.

I liked Rochester and didn't think he was manipulative so much as lonely and jealous as he tried to get Jane's attention. For some reason I find this book wonderfully romantic. I also don't consider St. John a "love interest" at all. He's just a creep that thinks he's better than the world.

Jane is the best.

jupitersinclair said...

Jane Eyre is one of my favorites :)

Nymeth said...

I hated St John Rivers with a passion! And that whole section when Jane is living with them dragged a bit for me. I did like Rochester, though...he could be unpleasant, but like Amanda I think a lot of it was just a misguided sense of humour. He didn't always know when to stop teasing Jane.

Anyway...even if you didn't love it, I'm very glad you enjoyed it! And pff...since when is taste a matter of "sophistication"? The funny thing is that I KNOW you'd never say anyone else who didn't like whatever "unsophisticated"!

Kailana said...

I still haven't read this book. No big surprise that. I don't have a fear... it's called disinterest! I might get interested in the future, though.

Melody said...

I haven't read this book, yet!!! I guess I need to read this soon! Maybe I might choose this for my next read for the Classics Reading Challenge... we shall see. ;)

libritouches said...

If it helps, in my (completely and horridly biased) opinion you're much better off never coming near a Dickens book. *can't stand the man* If you wanted to read more 19th century literature, you could always pick up things like Alice in Wonderland or Peter and Wendy instead. ^-~

And I agree, you sure write one heck of a review. I'm sure you have far more sophistication in your blood than you give yourself credit for. Stop being so hard on yourself! (Said the pot to the kettle. ^-~ Potentially.)

I wish I could remember more of my time reading Jane Eyre, but I just remember liking it. I have a terrible memory. I do remember that it was the first 'real' English literature book I ever read, though. It did cure me of a fair amount of my 'fear of old literature' because I enjoyed it so much, but I don't think I'll ever love a lot of books from the period.

TheBlackSheep said...

I love Jane Eyre. It's one of my favourite books. It also got me started reading the rest of the Bront√ęs' works, but this is by far the best, with Tenent of Wildfell Hall taking a far second.

I liked Rochester. I thought he was quirky and interesting. He is also, for his day, a real breath of fresh air. If you consider him in context and place him next to other men of the age, he looks pretty good. Besides, he loved Jane for who she really was and not because of the outer trappings.

St. John, on the other hand, was an arrogant Pratt and I would have been mortified had Jane gone with him. At least she thought more of herself than that.

I'll have to agree to disagree with you on Jane Austen and Dickens. Theses are two of my favourite authors. We can't all have the same tastes though!

Kim L said...

I saw this as a movie on BBC, then read the book, and I have to say I came to enjoy Rochester a lot throughout the course of both versions. Yes, he is a bit cruel to Jane by not admitting his affection for her, but by the time Jane finally comes home to him, he has changed and become a bit more the man she needs anyhow.

St. John was very much bleh, anyhow. No romance there!

Really, in my opinion the most objectionable part is the atrocious way that mental illness is viewed in this novel, but I take it in the context of the historical period it was written in.

Amanda said...

Great review! In all honesty, while I liked Jane Eyre, it's not my favorite old British lit. I agree with you that her love interests just didn't do it for me. And while I liked the gothic feel of the novel with the mystery, etc, yeah, it was just a little too contrived.

bkclubcare said...

This is one of those books that I seem to know SO MUCH about but then get a vague feeling that maybe I really haven't read it. But I'm not interested in picking it up to find out!

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