One of the greatest love stories of all time

Is, undoubtedly, JANE EYRE.

Rich, nuanced, sharp and full of feeling, Charlotte Bronte creates a compelling, sympathetic, heart-rending character in her heroine: Jane Eyre. I attempted to read this novel as a young teenager, but couldn’t get into it. The subject, the place, were too far removed from me at that point, and the story just didn’t grip me (although the film did). I couldn’t get on with it.

But now, what a contrast. I was mesmerised, totally spellbound for the week it took me to finish. I snatched every moment I could, at lunch, after work, on the tube, before bed until the wee hours – that is probably what drove me to illness, burning the late night candle. It is a powerful love story – erotic, tense, true.

The underlying message, in the Examiner‘s words (a contemporary newspaper): ‘to show how intellect and unswerving integrity may win their way’ is sound.

still from tv adaptation

Jane’s actions, although at times rather frustrating – she is so true to herself, so infuriatingly honourable I could hardly bear it – do play out for the best. Rochester’s and Jane’s relationship would not, otherwise, have been as rich, as powerful, as comparable – as equal.

I was totally enchanted and agreed with all the reviewers of the time, most notably Fraser’s Magazine:

Almost all that we require in a novelist the writer has: perception of character and power of delineating it; picturesqueness, passion, and knowledge of life … the actual suffering and experience … gives the book its charm: it is soul speaking to soul: it is an utterance from the depths of a struggling, suffering, much enduring spirit: suspiria de profundis.

Charlotte Bronte fleshes out the characters deeply, profoundly, so that one feels a genuine kinship and sympathy for them. I don’t often cry, but did, here, more than once. Go out: get it: read it.

To switch tack slightly, I have enjoyed a wonderfully unplanned four days this Bank Holiday weekend, and in addition to finally catching the Gauguin exhibition at the Tate Modern – vibrant palette, wonderful European paintings – making use of a wedding gift champagne tea at The Orangery in Kensington Gardens – have been doing some cooking and baking.

From John Burton Race & Angela Hartnett’s First Crack Your Egg! I got a wonderful recipe for cheese/poppyseed pastry and made a cheese, onion and bacon flan – with my own addition of broccolli – mmm. And tonight made the fabulously indulgent onion tarte from Plats du Jour, as well as some delicious cinnamon biscuits from Agnes Jekyll’s Kitchen Essays. Pictures to come!

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2 Responses to “One of the greatest love stories of all time”

  1. Zebedee O'Leary Says:

    What a coincidence. Not only did I too read Jane Eyre this holiday, and loved it, I also made an egg-based savoury snack afterwards, a flan.

    Try reading it backwards now. Goes totally sci-fi. Know what I mean?

    Zeb

  2. Anna Says:

    Jane Eyre is such a timeless story, I’ve read it several times, and always enjoyed it. Have you read The Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys? Very thought provoking to see the story from the perspective from the original ‘madwoman in the attic’.

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