Recently, the editors at Bookish.com published an article compiling favourite romance novel heroines as chosen by romance authors (http://www.bookish.com/articles/favorite-romance-heroines/). The heroines in the list were from modern-era novels, with one notable exception: Elizabeth Bennet of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
When I consider my favourite characters in romance, I invariably find myself drawn to the classic literature I read in my late teens and early twenties. I was studying French literature then at the University of Alexandria, and I walked around with a cast of tragic heroines haunting me, from Gustave Flaubert’s Emma (Madame Bovary), to Stendhal’s Mathilde (The Red and the Black), to Victor Hugo’s Esmeralda (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) and Éponine (Les Misérables).
But I also read a lot of English literature, and I was drawn to the works of the Brontë sisters; to Charlotte’s writing in particular (Emily’s is a little dark for my taste). My favourite romance heroine of all is Jane Eyre.
For me, Jane is the ultimate heroine, the very embodiment of strength and courage and resilience and determination. With Jane, it is not about privilege or beauty or charm; what matters is heart and faith. She is very romantic, and yet simultaneously rooted in realism. She is a woman before her time; an absolute inspiration.
Here are just a handful of Jane Eyre quotations which inspire me:
The Bookseller recently reported that ‘lost’ manuscripts by Charlotte Brontë are to be published (http://www.thebookseller.com/news/bront-society-publishes-lost-manuscripts-charlotte-bront-755396). The poem and a short story, entitled ‘The Remains of Henry Kirke White’, were discovered between the pages of a book owned by Maria, Charlotte’s elder sister who died in childhood, and bought by The Brontë Society. Of course, Brontë fans like myself will be keen to read these short works by Charlotte when they are published later this year (along with the story of how the lost manuscripts were found, and essays by Brontë historians). But I know already that they won’t move me quite as much as Jane Eyre does.
‘Reader, I married him.’ Is there any more eloquent, perfect line in literature? Every time I read this sentence, I want to stand and cheer. Jane married him; Jane is the mistress of her fate, the captain of her soul.
And every time I read this sentence, I want to write one of my own. Jane Eyre: one of the greatest inspirations for my writing.