So I have to admit that the reason I jumped from "The Jungle Book" to "Jane Eyre" was twofold-- I felt like I didn't want to cop-out and read another short book to get "caught up" on my list, and I am interested in seeing the new movie adaptation of "Jane Eyre" starring Mia Wasikowska (who played Alice in the live action adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland.") I generally like to read a book before I see a movie based on the book (yeah, I'm one of those) so I chose this one next.
What I didn't expect was to finish this 593 page book in 2 1/2 days, staying up until at least 2 a.m. both nights. I shouldn't keep being surprised by how good some of these books are (they are, after all, classics) but this one drew me in from the beginning, and I enjoyed it immensely.
It reminded me a bit of "Rebecca" in certain ways-- mousy young girl falls in love with older man in a higher class than herself, only to discover he has a mysterious past. The only way I can think to describe the difference in the two books, though, is to say that in my opinion, "Rebecca" revolves more around the romantic relationship, whereas "Jane Eyre" revolves chiefly around Jane herself. The romance doesn't even surface until close to halfway through the book.
Jane Eyre was orphaned almost at birth and taken in by her mother's brother. Her mother's family had opposed her marriage to Jane's father due to the fact that he was of a lower class, so when Jane's uncle takes her in, his wife is none to pleased. The uncle then dies, after making his wife promise to raise Jane as her own child.
Jane spends 10 years in the care of her aunt, who does not, in fact, treat her as her own child, but instead treats her the same as she would a servant, without actually making her do work. She lets her own three children abuse Jane, and abuses her herself, until Jane finally fights back one day and is then locked in a dark, "haunted" room for hours. She has a panic attack and is ill for days, and the doctor suggests to Jane's aunt that she be sent away to school.
Jane is then transferred to the Lowood Institution, which is basically a boarding school/home for orphaned or abandoned girls. She lives there until she is 18, and after a rough start, learns to love the school, even teaching there for 2 years. When she is 18, though, she realizes that she wants to explore more of the outside world, and advertises for a position as a teacher. Her advertisement is answered by a woman looking for a governess for a 10 year old girl, and Jane is hired.
The girl is the ward of a rich man (he is supposedly the father, but doesn't really believe he is... the mother was a bit of a floozy. But she abandoned the girl in his care, and he took pity.) Jane loves her new home and her job, and eventually falls in love with the master/owner of the home, Mr. Rochester. He, too, falls in love with her (despite their 20 year age difference) and they decide to marry... which is where things go a bit awry.
Though there are about 200 pages of story left at this point, I'll end my summary there... I always have a hard time determining which bits of information are OK to share and which cross the line into "spoiler" territory. What I will say is that it is very worth reading the book, as it is pretty easy to read and is endlessly entertaining.
And if I do get the opportunity to see the latest adaptation of the book, I will try to remember to post a blog on that as well... if it follows closely enough to the book, you non-readers might save yourself hours of reading. (Bonus--the movie includes an actress named "Imogen Poots." Which is a giggle-fest.) But if you're a reader, I'd highly recommend "Jane Eyre." It drew me in and kept me interested, did not disappoint with the ending, and cemented my loyal adoration of the Bronte sisters (though I have yet to read a book by Anne-- perhaps that's next!)