Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
Admittedly, seeing “spooky” snapshots of various Jane Eyre films made me reluctant to read this novel for years, but when I finally took the plunge, the book didn’t feel quite as spooky and dark as the film snapshots looked. (I had the same feeling when I finally read Northanger Abbey after years of avoiding it, as all of the “spooky darkness” I found depicted on much of the media I’ve seen about it turned out to make up a pretty small fraction of the actual book.)
Going into it, I didn’t expect to admire Jane so much, but, ah! She’s quite a cookie! What a head on her shoulders. She’s not just some dull bore sitting off in a corner with dull thoughts, but she’s quick as all get out, with a well of desires along with her resolve. I was miffed to see her depicted in an early film as a pretty thing, a little songbird perched at the piano, melting Mr. Rochester’s heart with her sweet little tune. It took so much of the point out of her whole character, and I had to turn the movie off. (Rarely do I begin a movie without ever finishing it.)
Jane’s power as a heroine comes not from being a cutie, from being a figure of stunning talents to turn everyone’s heads and make everybody worship her, but her power comes from her inner landscape. She doesn’t have the face of a Miss Blanche to make her interesting, but the fact that Jane doesn’t need that in order to be subtly fascinating is what makes her…fascinating. It’s what makes her classic.
I’m glad I finally took the plunge with this not-so-incredibly-dark-after-all book, now one of my all-time favorite novels.
I’ve seen about two and 1/3 of the many film adaptations of Jane Eyre (the fraction being the one I turned off before finishing.) Here’s a clip from the 2011 Focus Features adaptation. You’ll find my review of the film here.