Saturday, August 6, 2011

Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
First Published: 1847
Publisher(of the edition I read): Barnes & Noble, Inc.
Number of Pages: 466
ISBN: 156619024X

I felt a myriad of different things about this book. First, I should probably let you know that I saw the new movie (which is now available on DVD! YAY! :D) before reading the book *gasp!* Shocking, I know. I really wanted to read it first, because that's kind of a big thing with me. And well, I did read the first 30-50 pages before seeing it, so that counts for something, right?

Anyway... I finally read it! It took forever. But it was totally worth it. It was definitely one of the best love stories I've ever read! But I think one of the disadvantages to having seen the movie first was that I would get to a certain part and think that it was the part where everything gets better (y'know before it gets worse) and then it wasn't! But on the other hand, I think being able to read it with the knowledge that it WAS going to get better was part of what made me want to keep reading.

Is it a light read? No, not really. And there are several reasons:

1) The characters speak in french not infrequently and most of the time with little or no explanation. So unless you know french, that could be a little frustrating. A few times I was able to guess a couple words here and there because of my knowledge of spanish, but not much.

2) Charlotte Bronte's diction is INTENSE. That's all there is to it. I'd like to think that I have a pretty good vocabulary and thus do not require the aid of a dictionary in most of my literary adventures. And I really don't mind(and even sometimes enjoy) looking up a word here and there. But I can't even tell you how many times I had to pull out a pocket dictionary and then a bigger one because it didn't have the word in it, and then finally just give up because I couldn't find the word anywhere. After a while I just abandoned the whole process and had to be content with not knowing.

3) For most of the book Jane is unhappy. Like, excruciatingly unhappy. And of course you feel a certain amount of that because she is the main character and you are in her head. And this is really a good thing because we don't read books to be passive, right? We read because we want to be there and to feel what the characters are feeling. It's an essential element of good storytelling because if it's not there, your reader is--more likely than not--going to get bored and put your book down, because they simply do not care whether your character gets eaten by a great white shark or is thrown over a cliff by his/her best friend. So that's definitely one of the book's strong points.

So if you are majorly depressed or insanely happy, I'd wait a little while to read it. But you should read it. Really. Because it's amazing! And I guess if you're like me, the fact that it's a classic might be part of what motivates you to read it, too.

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