Fiction — eBook. Project Gutenberg, 2010. Originally published 1847. 718 pgs. Free download.
Charlotte Brontë’s undisputed classic has been sitting on my shelf for many years now, but despite the numerous recommendations I received and demands that I just read it already, I left it languish there for quite a while. You see, I really did not care for Charlotte’s sister’s book, Wuthering Heights, and I made the erroneous assumption that the sisters’ books must be similar. Not true in the least.
Brontë’s novel begins with ten-year-old Jane Eyre being sent away from Gateshead by her horrid Aunt Reed to Lowood School, where parson Brocklehurst demands piety of his charges but leaves them threadbare and hungry while his family lives in the lap of luxury. She eventually leaves Lowood School to become a governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage.
Because of my reservations, I found that this book was surprisingly enjoyable! The emotion conveyed within its pages is truly wonderful, and I found myself being moved by the story within the pages. I loved that Mr. Rochester and Jane both have their faults, are considered kind of ugly or plain, and how their characters evolved over time.
Historical context is something I struggled to keep in mind though. I was frustrated with Jane’s quest for independence because her moving from Mr. Rochester’s house to living with the River’s family didn’t really feel like independence to me. But then I realized that I was projecting my twenty-first century expectations on a woman living in the nineteenth century, and my frustrations with her were (mostly) dissipated.
This is the second book I read on my new iPad; the first was A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh. But this was the first novel I’ve read on an eReader and I found it to be a really enjoyable experience. My printed copy of Jane Eyre was, in part, part of the reason that it took me so long to read this book. The print was ridiculously tiny and it was a great strain on my eyes every time I tried to read it in print form. But with my iPad, I was able to increase the font and enjoy F. H. Townsend’s original illustrations.
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