Shelf Indulgence review
Jane Eyre was essential secondary school reading in my day, but times change. So why does it high on the list of my Shelf Indulgence favourites? Why should 21st century readers want to read about an orphan girl growing up in early Victorian times? Dear Reader, read on . . .
Of its time, Jane Eyre was daring, innovative, and even contentious. The first section was among the earliest written from a child’s viewpoint, and Brontë completely immerses the reader in Jane’s world.
Though ‘poor, obscure, plain and little’, Jane is loyal, kind, brave, and steadfast, with a great heart and an indomitable spirit. Though diffident, she has an immutable sense of justice, and she adheres to her morals even when it puts her in physical peril.
Cast off by her embittered aunt, she survives the brutal regime of school for orphans and at eighteen becomes governess to the ward of Mr Rochester at Thornfield Hall. What follows is often termed a Gothic romance, though Jane Eyre could not be a more unconventional heroine. It is also a supernatural tale and a satisfying mystery that still has the power to delight and thrill. Who is the sinister Grace Poole, who creeps about at night, setting fires? What hold has she over Mr Rochester? An important influence on my own writing, every reading of Jane Eyre provides something new to admire, chief of which is Brontë’s ability to make the reader feel deeply for her characters.
Buy Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
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