I know I know, how did it take me so long to get round to reading this?
I don’t know how I managed to avoid having to read this literary classic through all those years of GCSE, A-level, and degree level English Literature classes, but somehow I did.
And now I’ve read it, I’m a little disappointed in myself that it took me so long.
It might seem a bit obvious to say this book is brilliant, because why would it still be so popular and be stocked in every bookshop if it wasn’t, but here goes, this book is brilliant!
I don’t know if it was the fact that it was one of those brilliant books where you fall in love with the heroine because she seems so normal, or because it was altogether a bit bizarre, but I couldn’t put it down.
Where Bronte’s sister Emily writes about passionate burn the house down love in Wuthering Heights, Charlotte actually burns a house down in Jane Eyre (spoilers, sorry).
I really warmed to Jane from the off, and continued to develop a love for her as the book went on, due probably to the fact that nothing seems to go quite right for her.
You’d think that a young girl who had been taken in as a ward for a well off family living in a large house would be your typical 19th century heroin, and you’d be forgiven for starting to switch off as a result.
But it turns out she’s wildly unhappy, frequently mistreated, and you soon hope she finds some escape.
When the prospect of going to school gets put on the table, the reader is elated along with Jane at her chance to get away from Gateshead and find happiness.
So when she arrives at the Lowood Institution, and finds it is not what she dreamed it would be at first, the reader is dragged back into turmoil along with her.
Thanks to some courage and skill, Jane manages to make a life for herself at the school, and becomes happy, so when she decides to leave, the reader worries she’s giving up a good thing.
But then she’s greeted at her new home, Thornfield, so graciously by the housekeeper, Mrs Fairfax, that everything seems to be on the up for our Jane.
No Bronte sister would let the story be so simple however, and soon turmoil reigns once more, forcing Jane from Thornfield and out into the cold, quite literally.
Through all its ups and downs I couldn’t put this book down, and longed for Jane to find some comfort and permanence in her life.
A true masterpiece, and up there in my favourite books.