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Monday, July 28, 2008

1001 Book Update - Jane Eyre

I finally got around to reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. While I am a fan of Jane Austin, I never really delved into any Bronte books. As you probably know, the Bronte sisters: Charlotte, Emily, and Anne. Each was talented at writing and produced a few classic books. I read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte in high school and really didn't like it. I think I will have to go back and re-read it though. After reading Jane Eyre and having LOVED it, I am going to check out more Bronte books.

Jane Eyre is the story of an un-loved, plain, poor, and parent-less girl. The book does a great job describing her painful growing up years. After her parents die, Jane is left in the hands of a loveless aunt who sends Jane off to school at the age of ten. Jane become a talented educated young lady, but unfortunately never a beauty. After eight or so years at school, Jane manages to get herself a position as a governess.

I always assumed that the novel ends there...she meets someone, falls in love...yadayada. But no! This is not your typical romance story. Jane is plain but good. Her hero Mr. Rochester is not handsome and a bit gruff. And the servants are hiding a huge secret that could drive Jane and Mr. Rochester apart.

I apparently thought I had read this book because a while back I had seen a 1996 movie version and, honestly, it didn't impress me too much. Jane was a little too mousy for me. I don't think I even watched the whole movie because the second half of this book totally caught me off guard. I can see now after reading the book how hard it would be to portray Jane and Mr. Rochester in just the right way.

The book was much much better. I totally felt for Jane and thought she was an amazing character. She eventually gains happiness but she only does it on her terms. Again and again she was tested and could have chosen the easy path, but she didn't. While Mr. Rochester isn't my favorite male the end of the story I really liked his character.

There is a newer version of Jane Eyre which was recently aired on PBS which is supposed to be pretty darn good. I also have to say I want to watch it because the character of Mr. Rochester is played by Toby Stephens who does an amazing job as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.

Just a question: For those of you who have read Jane Eyre or watched the any of the movie versions, what are your opinions? Do you like the book better? Did the movie turn you on or off the story of Jane?

P.S. I read Jane Eyre on Google Books. A great resource for reading books online that are past the copyrighted protection. Make sure you search the "Full-view" only for the book in its entirety.

This is the 1996 movie:

This is the newer version which aired on PBS this year:

Also reviewed by:

Things Mean a Lot
Bookworms and Tea Lovers
Ticket to Anywhere
Book Nut
Books Love Me
Becky's Book Reviews
At Home With Books
Nothing of Importance
Jazzster Reviews


  1. Get ready for a revelation! Toby Stephens' portrayal of Mr. Rochester is positively breathtaking. He has the talent to reveal all the aspects of the man's tortured soul while retaining the mystery until the appropriate moment. His powerful yet nuanced interpretation illuminates the book rather than diminishing(sp?) it. He is the definitive version of Rochester. Watch and, like me, watch again. It is a magnificent performance.

  2. The movie version is simply superb. Ruth Wilson is wonderful--she manages to be plain but glowing when she needs to be, and Toby Stephens is hopelessly handsome, so he really harps on the "gruff" part of the character and it totally works. I've watched the movie (literally) a dozen times. You will love it!

  3. Like you, I read Wuthering Heights in my teens and I didn't enjoy it at all. I wonder if I'd feel differently now. I haven't read Jane Eyre yet either, but I will very soon. I look forward to it even more after your review.

  4. I love the Bronte sisters. I reread Wuthering Heights recently (it was one of my high school favorites) and keep meaning to pick up something by Anne (the one sister I haven't read yet). Also as an Austen fan, I think the Bronte's are a nice contrast because there is always something darker and more bittersweet it seems in the novels than Austen's. Definitely nice companion authors though.

  5. I prefer the Brontes to Jane Austen, but I've only read two Bronte books and two Austen books so maybe I can't judge fairly.

    What was the experience like reading this on Google Books?? I'm not sure I could read something like this from the computer.

  6. I took the same path as you did (at the beginning of this year). I'd read all of Austen more than once and I still love her. I loathed Wuthering Heights in high school and have tried, and failed, to read it since. Then I picked up JE and read it virtually in one go. It was brilliant. Then I thought I'd read the other Charlotte Brontë books and was disappointed. In my opnion, JE was the best of the lot. Shirley comes in second, but way down the line. Somehow her other books all seem to float around too much. She mentions people in Shirley at the beginning and then you never hear about them again, even though she's practically set them up as main characters. I find it odd and it made it difficult for me to concentrate on the books.

    I'll have to check out your Goole link. I've been getting mine off of (I chose the HTMLs and copy them into Word so I can read at work when it's slow (boss knows)), but if Google's got better options, I might switch.

  7. I think Jane Eyre is a terrific story. As a movie it can be over the top because the moral themes can seem irrelevant to a modern audience. But I love the dark brooding story and I have deep sympathy for Jane's hard life and her spirit that has not been crushed. I loved the PBS version.

  8. I've watched the 1996 version, read the book and I liked them both. It's one of my favourite classics, a book which I feel every girl (or guy) should read but it's up to them.

    Here's my review of it!

  9. Jane Eyre is a wonderful book. I didn't think I would like it, because I really disliked Wuthering Heights, but the sisters write nowhere near alike. I've also read The Tenant at Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte and that was pretty good, though not near as good as Jane Eyre.

    5-Squared (a book review blog)

  10. Jane eyre is my favourite book. It has all the things a book should have, I like the dark atmosphere and the romantic love story, the character of Jane, so strong and passionate at the same time, and I really love Mr. Rochester, so mysterious! I have watched the 1996movie, but I didin't like it, Mr. Rochester wasn't as I imagined him, and also Jane! I simply couldn't feel the same emotions I felt while reading the book. Then I watched the other version, and I thought I have finally found My Jane, the Jane I imagined! This version is wonderful, and Toby Stephens too! Ps: I have also read Wuthering Heights, and I liked it very much, it'so dark but passionate!

  11. I've loved Jane Eyre since I was a small girl. and my favorite movie version of it stars George C. Scott as Rochester. I keep hoping to catch it on tv. If you ever see it listed, check it out. It is splendidly done!

  12. HEHE,I am writing a review on my blog atm...and came across this! what a coincidence!

    I personally prefer the book as I have not seen th emovie but I plan to search for a movie later on online~

  13. this movie is awsome love it as one of my favorite

  14. Masterful interpretation.
    Toby Stephens and Ruth are unforgettable. I love this movie, it´s my favourite novel and film.
    I´m writting "Toby Stephens es una poesía interminable" in my myspace blog. If you want you can read it. The translation option is fabulous... with many languages. Thanks.
    Happy day!

    Sara C.M.


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