Jane Eyre was a book club pick way back in January, and the cold, rainy Vancouver weather provided the perfect backdrop for reading it. I actually read Jane Eyre in 9th grade, but remembered absolutely nothing about it except for the "big reveal" which I will not reveal here lest I spoil it for someone else. But there is so much more to the story than this climax, and as I read it for the second time (20 years later), I realized how much I had missed at 13.
Jane Eyre tells the story of...Jane Eyre, an orphan who is cruelly treated and unloved by a sadistic aunt and sent away to a school for girls which, although harsh and spartan, enables her to form friendships and relationships and grow into an educated woman. After teaching at the school for a few years, she takes a job as a governess at an estate of a single man, Mr. Rochester, and his ward, the young daughter of an old lover (but not his own child). Mysterious things happen in the house, which are ultimately explained by the "big reveal" I mention above, resulting in Jane leaving in a rush and setting out on her own with no money and nowhere to go. She finds herself in the company of generous strangers in a completely different part of the country, and amazing connections are revealed (but again, not by me here -- I don't want to ruin it).
Because I had already read the book and didn't recall liking it very much, I was pleasantly surprised by how easily I was engaged by the story and how easy it was to read. It had been a real slog when I was 13, and having read it again now I feel that I was just too young to really appreciate it the first time around. This is the kind of book where you have to have 'lived' a little to really appreciate it -- to have experienced challenges in life, heartbreak, conflicts. And although I'm sure that all 13 year-old's, if questioned, would say they have experienced all of those things, I'm going to be completely condescending and say that...well...they haven't.
My only criticism comes at the end of the story, where things just seem to fall into place a bit too conveniently. I didn't buy some of the major coincidences that enable Jane to come into family and fortune within the span of a few months. But overall, it was a very enjoyable book, and one that I will recommend to my daughter...when she is in her 20s, at least. :)
MY RATING: 7/10