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Jane Eyre (Penguin Clothbound Classics) Hardcover – 6 Nov 2008
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"At the end we are steeped through and through with the genius, the vehemence, the indignation of Charlotte Brontë."
From the Inside Flap
Part of "Penguin's" beautiful hardback "Clothbound Classics" series, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith, these delectable and collectible editions are bound in high-quality colourful, tactile cloth with foil stamped into the design. Charlotte Bronte's first published novel, "Jane Eyre" was immediately recognised as a work of genius when it appeared in 1847. Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. How she takes up the post of governess at Thornfield Hall, meets and loves Mr Rochester and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage are elements in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman's passionate search for a wider and richer life than that traditionally accorded to her sex in Victorian society.See all Product description
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For me, it wasn’t quite as ‘creepy’ as the above blurb seems to be hinting towards. In fact, I guessed the ‘terrifying secret’ pretty early on. However that didn’t ruin my enjoyment at all.
It’s a simple tale of a young girl, orphaned as a child and an outcast among her remaining family. And here we see her grow up, and navigate her way through life and love. I actually didn’t know anything about this story going into it, but will be looking out for some adaptions to watch. (Let me know if you have any recommendations!)
Listening to this on audiobook definitely worked for me (I think it’s the best way to consume classics), and I adored Thandie Newton’s narration in the Audible edition I picked up.
Overall, I can see what the fuss is with this. It’s now one of my favourite classics (outside of Agatha Christie)!
It started off OK for me, I found it easier to read than Jane Austen's Emma, as in the style didn't seem to get in the way for me at first, but gradually that changed. Rather than looking forward to another chapter, it felt like a chore.
What is so wonderful about this book is that, as a story per se, it's fantastically straightforward and readable. I think Bronte herself described it as a "plain tale", and indeed in some respects it is a simple, moving story, told without pretension or artifice. However, into that tale the author packs such a rich web of symbolism and metaphor, descriptive brilliance and wild imagination, that you would have to say this is possibly the most gorgeously decorated "plain tale" ever told. For the 1840s it's absolutely off the map, and today's reader will still be constantly amazed at the joy of reading this novel. I raced through it greedily, and know that in time I will come back to it again. I'm so pleased no well-meaning English teacher ever forced me to read this at 14 and analyse it to death - this is a book for pleasure, and a book to enjoy when the time it right for you. Whenever that it, you'll have one of the best literary experiences available.
It took me a while to read this in full (over a week), because it's one of those you have to read it slowly and read every word to appreciate it. Yes, it is a bit confusing in some parts, but as this is my first classic (I have not seen any TV adaptations or such either), it might just be me getting used to the terminology used back in the day. It is a wonderful story about life back then and the title character comes to life off the pages. This is where modern romance stories have evolved from and it is a recommended read for anyone who wants to read one of the classics. I think even my 12-year-old self would have approved had I finished the story when I first started it.
The way women were thought of, and treated, in the era this book reflects, will outrage and upset many modern women and girls. The master/servant relationship ships leave a lot to be desired too in books of this era. Nevertheless, I have always loved this book. Good escapism.
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