On (Re)reading Jane Eyre - The Chevalier's Chick Chat
"I am not an angel, and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself."
Jane Eyre. You've either read it or should be reading it.
Despite working at a bookstore and (OBVIOUSLY) knowing everything about every book to have ever existed in the history of the written word...there were a couple of us who hadn't read Jane Eyre just yet.
In our last Chevy Gal Pals bookclub we set out to rectify this egregious error.
Our final thoughts? You should read it. Or reread it. Now.
XIXI - FIRST TIME READER:
"Period England is probably my least favorite setting of all time, but...
I LOVED Jane Eyre. It’s deliciously dramatic and romantic in all the right ways, and the plot engrossed and satisfied me all the way through. The only way I can think of to accurately describe it is by dropping a bunch of quotes, but I don’t want to spoil any moment for you, so just read it!
THERESA - FIRST TIME READER:
"Confession: I hate British lit. About 95% of the time.
Jane Eyre was a rare (and magnificent) exception. Charlotte Bronte writes with infectious fervor and her characters are nuanced, problematic-yet-redemptive, and absolutely iconic. Jane Eyre was a feminist manifesto centuries ahead of its time that delivers on every single note. Highly recommended for anyone wary of having to drudge through an obligatory classic—this will be a blast.
MARTHA - SECOND TIME READER:
"Okay, so unlike some members of my cohort, I really like me some Period England British Lit...
In fact, I was supposed to read Jane Eyre in a Victorian Lit class, but it was college and I might not have gotten all the way through… thus I was grateful to finally correct this tragic wrong.
Yet, somehow, I’m the only one who didn’t absolutely love it. Of course it’s a groundbreaking story that is all the more relevant in a post #metoo world. The concept of a woman in Victorian England without family or means spurning the advances of a man (and a man she loves, no less!) to preserve her sense of self, is INSANELY badass. But somehow I expected more. There’s so much lit crit/pop culture devoted to “the madwoman in the attic,” that I was really looking forward to getting to know her. But in reality Bertha’s story remains obscured to the very end. Oh well, I still love Jane herself, and I had a great time with the nature and the moors and the elves and whatnot.
RACHEL - SECOND TIME READER:
"For some reason, I never had to read Jane Eyre in high school or college...
I WAS forced to read a zillion Dickens novels, but absolutely nothing by the Bronte sisters, probably due to patriarchal nonsense. I read Jane Eyre for the first time a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Guess what? The reread was even better! If you haven’t read it yet, you should. If you haven’t read it in awhile, reread it! It’s totally worth it. Here are some of my favorite parts to entice you (I’ll try not to get too spoiler-y).
1. The love story: Yes, I admit, Jane and Rochester’s relationship is pretty problematic. First, there’s the power dynamic situation. Rochester is Jane’s employer and is waaaaaay older than her. Also, Jane has no experience with men. Before Jane leaves the indigent typhus epidemic school, she’s met like five guys. So when she fell for Rochester, I kept mentally yelling, “Girl, there are more dudes in England. Play the field. Go to a village or a shire or whatever, I’m sure there’s a shepherd or a fletcher or a blacksmith or a flaneur or some other 19th century dude around.” But Jane falls for Rochester and falls hard. Even though Rochester gaslights her. Even though he uses terrible pick-up artist tricks out of The Game. BUT. The reason why I can get behind this relationship, the reason why Jane and Rochester are the OTP is because they bond over their love of ELVES. Yes, this actually happens and yes, they talk about elves multiple times in this book. Because these two really loves elves. It’s pretty cool.
2. The best way to turn down a marriage proposal from your super lame, super self-righteous cousin (because this kind of thing happened in the 19th century): “Formerly,” I answered, “because you did not love me; now, I reply, because you almost hate me. If I were to marry you, you would kill me. You are killing me now.”
3. Other cool stuff: a character appears in drag! Psychic powers are unleashed! Yes, these things actually happen in Jane Eyre!