Does it get any more classic than Jane Eyre? Charlotte Bronte’s tale of a small, plain governess in England who falls in love with the master of the house has been delighting readers for more than a century. Not to mention the ridiculous number of film adaptations it has inspired. I have read this story many times, and it never fails to make me sad, tense, angry, and joyful. There is something appealing about a young woman who, especially then, was unassuming and independent and wanted more for herself. Jane does not believe her relatives when they tell her she is worthless. She survives several years at a horrific boarding school for girls, the infamous Lowood institution. She then advertises for a position as a governess and soon takes charge of a little French girl, Adele, at the home of the fabulously wealthy but very moody and mysterious, Edward Rochester. Their relationship develops over time as something much more than employer-employee. This is where the story gets good. To be honest, Jane’s upbringing is very painful to read, so the reader takes particular delight when things finally start to go her way. Of course, there is always an obstacle to love, and Jane and Rochester face an insurmountable one. Jane decides she must leave Rochester, and in so doing, becomes the female character with the most integrity of any that I’ve ever read. To have gone your whole life never having known love or the feeling of home, then to gain those two things, and then to give them up willingly, would have been next to impossible. But Jane does it, and in so doing, puts her on a path that could take her away from Rochester forever.
Doesn’t it sound incredible? If you’ve not experienced the joy of reading this classic, I highly encourage you to do so. Especially because it’s the book we’re reading for this month’s Main Street Book Club! We’ll be discussing it next Tuesday, February 19th at 6:00 p.m. in the Library Community Room. We’ll also have a belated Valentine’s Day party, so we can promise you lots of chocolately goodness!