Jane Eyre should have been my February read for this challenge, but I have to admit that I dragged it out until late April. I'm quickly making up for it by zipping through "C" in just a few days and I'm already making serious headway on "D".
A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre dazzles and shocks readers with its passionate depiction of a woman's search for equality and freedom. Orphaned Jane Eyre grows up in the home of her heartless aunt, where she endures loneliness and cruelty, and at a charity school with a harsh regime. This troubled childhood strengthens Jane's natural independence and spirit-which proves necessary when she takes a position as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him and live with the consequences, or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving the man she loves?Writing
I'm a huge fan of all of the Brontes, but Jane Eyre is probably my absolute favorite. Rereading it was such a delight. In contrast to my critique of Austen, I'd consider this to be much more successful in terms of storytelling. The story is told beautifully and contains all of the elements of a excellence: thoughtfully created characters, suspense, a storyline that moves quickly enough to keep the reader engaged but also isn't rushed, and just plain beautiful words.
I think a lot has been said in recent feminist criticism about the relationship between Rochester and Jane. Those critiques are valid and include things like the fact that Rochester is vastly older than Jane, lies to Jane, tries to commit bigamy with Jane, and is in general and brooder who tends to play games. But the thing is that, while I can acknowledge these issues, I don't care in the least. I find the story to be wildly romantic, I am a huge fan of Rochester and Jane, and I can recognize the issues without letting them ruin my enjoyment of the book.
If you're hesitant to read the classics, but you're a fan of romance or even YA romance, this is the best place to start. It's readable and highly entertaining and has all of the elements of a great romance. There are love triangles and quadrangles galore, misunderstandings and moments of desperation, and of course, a beautiful ending. I highly recommend it.