642 pages (actual story was more like 527 pages, or thereabouts)
First published in 1847
I read the lovely Penguin edition pictured above, which I bought because it’s so darn purty
This is one of those classics that I actually enjoyed reading. I know, it’s a shocker…but really, I do have some good luck mixed in with the bad. I think the most surprising thing about Jane Eyre (because I already knew about the secret in the attic) was that for a 500 plus page book, it was a fairly quick read.
It’s hard not to read Jane Eyre and compare it to Wuthering Heights, because there’s that whole sister thing. And the thwarted love. Not to mention lovesick people wandering around on the moors. But while I thought WH was pretty much a farce, Jane Eyre actually had its believable moments. Plus, compared to those whiny-assed Catherines, Jane actually (with a few notable exceptions) had some spunk. And while Rochester isn’t my idea of the ideal man, when put up against Heathcliff he’s practically People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive. So, in my opinion, Jane Eyre rocks compared to WH. WH is all teenage angst…Jane Eyre, for all that she is only 18, is much more mature.
I do, however, have a few howevers.
However the first. What was up with Jane and St. John? The man was a total prick (again, in my opinion), and she’s all “Give up studying German so I can help you with Hindustanee, you self-serving bastard? Okay!” I was seriously worried she was going to marry the asshole.
Which leads me to the however the second. What was up with all that “my master” shit at the end?!? Jane marries the man of her dreams (and occasional nightmare), and suddenly all she can talk about is “my master.” It’s like suddenly it’s a Dom/Sub relationship, which isn’t really jiving with my mental picture of Quakerish, outspoken Jane.
Finally, my however the third. And this is just me, because as I mentioned, I already knew about the secret in the attic. Which makes me wonder what reading this book would be like when Bertha is a surprise to the reader. It’s hard to go into a classic without knowing the general premise, because they’ve become so much a part of our culture. But I’d be willing to bet that if read in the 1800’s, both Bertha and opinionated Jane would’ve made for one hell of a read. I’m a bit bummed I’ll never get to have that experience. But then I remember how much I love modern plumbing and I think maybe I got the better end of the deal.