Welcome to my blog, and thank you for visiting. I’m delighted to be participating in the hop, not least because surely one of the greatest pleasures in life is being thoroughly immersed in a great book, so deep that you just can’t bear to put it down and mundane aspects of a routine like eating and sleeping just don’t matter: all that matters is the story.
The book I have chosen to focus on is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, because it is my favourite classic romance novel. I remember first reading it in my teens and being entirely swept away, so much so that upon finishing the novel I promptly turned back to the first page and began again. Since then I have lost track of how many times I have read the book, in how many editions, and each reading, I know, has greatly inspired my own romance writing.
Here are ten reasons to get stuck into Jane Eyre.
1. The hero
For me, Mr Rochester is the romantic hero par excellence. He is the ultimate haunted, broody, tragic hero (little wonder, then, that he was the inspiration for Edward in Twilight). And oh what a romantic. ‘You know nothing about me,’ he tells Jane, ‘and nothing about the sort of love of which I am capable. Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear. Your mind is my treasure, and if it were broken, it would be my treasure still: if you raved, my arms should confine you, and not a strait waistcoat — your grasp, even in fury, would have a charm for me.’ Sigh!
2. The heroine
‘Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! – I have as much soul as you, – and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you!’ Jane: not pretty, we are told; nor formidable in stature. She does not fit in, does not hold attraction, does not have independent means – and yet she is surely the most likeable, moving, inspiring heroine in English literature. Looks do not matter, wealth does not matter: soul matters – that is Jane incarnate.
3. The critical acclaim
If you see the beauty of Jane Eyre, you are in good company. William Makepeace Thackeray called it, ‘The masterwork of a great genius.’ I love best Virginia Woolf’s review: ‘At the end we are steeped through and through with the genius, the vehemence, the indignation of Charlotte Brontë.’
4. The author
Brontë’s own life was tragic, adding a sombre tone to the writing that, for me, makes it all the more impactful and important to read. She lost her brother Branwell and writer sisters Anne and Emily within eight months, and she and her unborn child died mere months after finding love.
5. The feminist undercurrent
In a novel ahead of its time, Brontë was brave indeed to examine the role of women in the Victorian era and to challenge, through Jane, the predominant patriarchal views in society. She is an author to champion, and Jane is a heroine to admire for her gumption and independence.
6. The supernatural edge
There’s an angle in the writing that is mysterious and chilling. Jane has prophetic dreams, lightning strikes a tree on the night she agrees to marry, and she and Mr Rochester hear each other’s call over miles of separation. I have shivers down my spine!
7. The mood
Gothic, dark, mysterious, arduous; this is a book whose effect is hugely cathartic. How I feel as I read it!
8. The language
I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, great and strong! He made me love him without looking at me. The rhythm, the vocabulary, the sentiment within: just beautiful. And the wit! That is my favourite aspect, as in: Flirting is a woman’s trade, one must keep in practice.
9. The passion
Passion? you may think, if you have read Jane Eyre. Yes, passion, I argue! What burns within, what lies beneath the surface, is so much more powerful than obvious exhibitionism. To me, Jane Eyre is a beautifully romantic work, and the characters’ passion for each other is deeply moving.
10. The connection
‘Reader, I married him.’ One of the most famous lines in all of literature, and a clear indication of how Brontë connects directly to the reader, drawing you in so that you are part of the story yourself. With the first person narrator, you are so close to the action that it feels true.
I am giving away a Vintage Classic edition of Jane Eyre. To enter, simply answer the poll via Rafflecopter below. I will post internationally, so the competition is open to all.
Carry on your hop via http://www.stuckinbooks.com/