The Big Read

Books from Adulthood – No.10 Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

I wish to start by saying that reading this book was what inspired me to start this BBC top 100 challenge in the first place. So that should give you some idea as to my feelings about it in the first place. But the story as to why I read it is even more interesting.

As previously mentioned I took A-level English Literature in one year so I wrote both sets of coursework and took both exams simultaneously. Now for the AS, first year, exam we were studying Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Have I previously mentioned Frankenstein? Well perhaps I shall talk more extensively on it at some point but for now all you need to know is that there is only one book in the world that I hate more and I shall be reviewing that shortly and don’t want to spoil the surprise. Don’t misunderstand me, I do not think it is a bad book I just HATE IT. SO MUCH. GARRAHAHH. I had previously studied it at GCSE level as well and to find out I had to return to it for AS level was heart breaking. But I persevered until 5 weeks before the exam where it got to the point that I couldn’t even look at the book any more without being filled with this insatiable frustration. At which point I looked up the syllabus online and saw that I could do Jane Eyre instead. I started reading that day and begged my teacher the next time I saw her “PLEASE ANYTHING BUT FRANKENSTEIN ” to which she promptly said no.

The end of that story is that I ended up doing Frankenstein in he exam and not doing as well as I should of but then Jane Eyre! I was hooked. Wow is it a good book. I was so caught up in the world that I bought the audio book off Audible so that I could listen to it as I made my textiles coursework. Talk about Gothic atmosphere; Frankenstein doesn’t come anywhere close. There is even the compulsory bit of incest. But what really got me about this book was the female first person narration. There are so many feminist elements to this book that I feel this is often over looked but Jane tells her own story, she has her own voice and that was so uncommon, even Jane Austen’s heroines are written in the third person. This element was even more impactful when experiencing the story in audio book form, just think about that famous line whispered to you like a great secret finally revealed. Plus it was kind of hilarious to hear ‘Jane’s’ impression of Mr Rochester’s deep brooding voice.

This is a book which moved me and changed me. It has had a profound effect upon my character and the way I live my life and it’s a story I never thought I would relate to. At the end of the day it is a romance and there are some rather moralistic elements but it is a story about sticking to what you believe in no matter what. It is a lesson in being self-assured and I strive everyday to be more like Jane Eyre. Reader, read it.

Rating: 5/5

Would recommend to: everyone, especially anyone with an ignorant view of feminism.

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