I listened to Jane Eyre on audiobook when I was much younger (age 12?) and mostly enjoyed it, and I’m sure that I have tried to read it before but without success, but this time I stuck at it despite my objections to the tone of the child in the first third of the book, and I’m glad that I did. I’m not sure that it deserves the reputation of the sweeping romance conquering all, but it’s a well-crafted love story with riveting characters and entertaining twists to the plot.
I think the real magic of the book is that it starts with an unsympathetic child, admittedly suffering cruel treatment at the hands of her “benefactress”, but nevertheless raw and difficult to understand, and we are able to follow the transformation through her school years and her time with Rochester – the reader understands what has moulded her character and why it has been moulded in that way.
Jane and Rochester are fascinating characters, skilfully drawn with all Jane’s steadfast morals and romantic notions, Rochester’s passion and pride. The minor characters are designed with similar care, which adds enormously to the quality of the writing. I tired of Jane’s page-long hypothesising fairly rapidly, but I suppose it must be included if we are to be party to all her thoughts, which is what makes the book so engaging.
The last quarter of the book feels a little rushed – while all the ends are tied up, and in interesting ways, the story is concluded hastily. The 1980s BBC adaption with Timothy Dalton as Rochester (not old enough and too handsome – I was thinking more along Clive Owen lines…) is extraordinarily faithful to the book with excellent results… apart from a similarly rushed ending!
Definitely on the “to be recommended” list.