This month for the Classics book club at 5 Minutes for Books the book of choice was Jane Eyre. I was really excited to read it because I actually never had. Which admission completely stunned my mother in law as she rates Jane Eyre as the best book written ever. How could it be that one as reasonably well read as myself could have been so unfortunate as to have never read from the pages of Jane Eyre?
I live here in Yorkshire and where the Bronte's are from, Haworth, is really close by. So having adored Wuthering Heights as a teenager (oh Heathcliff!) I have felt almost like I have been living on hallowed ground. But only the lazy type of feeling not the actual type of feeling that has ever motivated me to get off my backside and take the 30 minute trip to Haworth and enjoy all that Bronte country has to offer.
Several chapters in I was gripped. My very own mother used to threaten to send me away to boarding school as punishment for my misbehaviour as a child which naturally terrified me to my inner core but somehow along the way I have romanticised just how wonderful life in an orphanage/boarding school would actually be. I have pondered on how great it must be to have such close kinship with your fellow boarders and the unity that would result from existing on a diet of mouldy bread or burned porridge and sleeping three to a bed. Or maybe I have just watched Annie one time too many?
As Jane survived Lowood and matured I was sad that she chose to leave but was excited to accompany her on her adventures in the big wide world.
It was at this point in my reading that my sister in law happened to enquire how I was finding the novel and decided never to speak to me again as I described Jane Eyre as dull. The middle chapters are seriously long and needlessly drawn out.
Mr Rochester was a very sad replacement for Mr Darcy in my mind (as I had just read Pride and Prejudice) and I found him strangely creepy and not at all attractive (Yes, I am shallow thank you very much!). Flirting with a young girl half his age, insisting on calling her his pet or his elf. I once very briefly dated a guy who insisted on calling me pumpkin, pet names like those should be outlawed, seriously. They're just plain wrong. Then he proceeds to occasionally call her Janet even though she never once refers to herself as anything other than Jane. If her name were indeed truly Janet Eyre I feel sure that hideous Mrs Reed woman would've been calling her it from day one rather than a kindly shortened version of her name. I was desperate for whole chapters on end for Jane to spout out, 'Hey Mister, I am neither your imp, elf or pet and the name is Jane, you humongous buffoon' sadly it never came. Gutted. Such a comment would really have brightened up the narrative.
By far my biggest concern at this point in my reading was what on earth was in existence and maniacally laughing on the third floor that relentlessly bites and knives people? I started to seriously wonder if Charlotte Bronte was some precursor for Stephen King.
But Rochester & Eyre are almost united before the creature on the third floor is exposed as his actually legal but slightly crazy wife and Jane takes off with no money or possessions for fear of being kept as his mistress on the continent.
Which results in the highly unlikely turn of events that she randomly wanders for three days seeking food and shelter and is eventually taken in by St. John Rivers and his sisters who end up actually being related to her and she happily shares with them the fortune she inherits from one of their Uncles.
St. John tries to coerce Jane into marriage saying some of the most blunderous things that no man should ever say to a woman 'You were formed for labour, not for love...', yep, because compliments like that will have the ladies lining up to marry you. She continues to refuse his less than tempting offer.
She randomly hears Rochester's disembodied voice and returns to Thornfield only to find it burned courtesy of the crazy wife on the third floor who jumped to her death from the flaming ruins. Jane discovers Rochester was badly maimed in the fire and left blind and without a hand. She of course finds him and it is the stuff Disney films are made of. Like a modern(ish) day Beauty and the Beast. Except she isn't exactly beautiful and he isn't exactly a beast.
But it goes without saying they live happily ever after and he even regains vision in one eye just to make everything fine and dandy.
So what I am trying to say in essence is......next time I consider reading Jane Eyre I will just read Pride and prejudice for 5,321,213th time instead.