Not-Quite-So-Plain Jane

Jane Eyre

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.

***Read as part of the Through the Wardrobe Debut Novels Challenge***

It seems to me that there comes a point in almost every girl or woman’s life when, as a reader, you fall into one of three camps for your go-to romantic classic and favourite novel. You either adopt the witticism of Austen with Pride and Prejudice, play on the darker side of enduring love with Wuthering Heights or root for the unexpected heroine in Jane Eyre. I am a die-hard Pride and Prejudice girl forever and always but there is something undeniably beautiful within the pages of Jane Eyre that pulls on my heartstrings every time I hear her call me “Reader”.

Jane Eyre was first published under the authorship of Currer Bell, Charlotte Brontë’s male pseudonym, and the struggle of existing within a world where who you are limits your ability socially is a strong concept that translates into this debut. Jane is forced to live a life as a dependant, being orphaned as a child, and yet she is determined to exist in a manner that befits her and her alone. From childhood to womanhood she develops into an independent-minded woman in a world where that privilege is reserved only for men.

There is a wonderfully gothic undertone woven throughout the book, with lyrical gothic settings and situations that come to a head with the appearance of the mysterious Bertha. I love the poeticism, the subtleties and measured nature of Brontë’s writing, she only reveals narrative plot points and key character traits when they are ready to be revealed and not a moment before! In Jane she creates a seemingly steadfast narrator who overcomes her lot in life and fights not only for what she wants but for what she believes is right – even if that is to the detriment of her desire.

Now Mr Rochester is not up there with Mr Darcy in terms of romantic leads for me but he is a grounded and realistic foible for Jane and that makes their slow-burning attraction something to root for. Brontë sidesteps the cliché of having her heroine and hero as the pinnacle of beauty and breeding and matches them instead on wit and intellect. He’s a flawed man with a dark secret and she is a plain governess with a strong moral code – cue tension and suspense by the page load!

For a classic Jane Eyre is a relatively easy read but the pacing is slow – such is the nature of Brontë’s narrative so be warned! It is, however, a wonderful novel to get completely lost in as you travel with Jane to Thornfield and beyond.

4 star


4 thoughts on “Not-Quite-So-Plain Jane

  1. Pingback: Debut Authors – What Brontë Did Next… | Through The Wardrobe

  2. I’ve been wanting to pick up Jane Eyre for the longest time. Out of curiosity which edition do you have? One of the reasons why I haven’t read it yet is because I own a Wordsworth edition which has horrible, tiny font. Might have to go and buy myself a pretty edition as encouragement ;P

    • I have the one pictured which is the Vintage edition from Random House – really nice and easy to read but there are some beautiful editions out there with gorgeous covers. I really like the Penguin English Library edition. (I’ve seen the Wordsworth eds and the fonts are small!)

      • It is really tiny! I’ve read Wuthering Heights in a Wordsworth edition and it took me ages because I kept having to stop as it gave me headaches.
        The English library edition is quite pretty. Maybe I’ll swap mine for that one.

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