I'm afraid it's been a couple weeks now since I finished Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and I haven't found the time to sum up my reaction, so this won't be as fresh as I'd hoped.
Jane Eyre felt to me like three distinct stories. There's Jane's difficult childhood at Gateshead and later at Lowood School. The novel then jumps ahead to her 18th year, and we have the Thornfield Hall section. Finally, Jane runs away after her disasterous attempt at a wedding to Rochester and lives with the Rivers family -- where she encounters yet another potential husband.
The middle section was the most compelling to me. Not, as I've mentioned, the rather painful codependency sections between Jane and Rochester, but rather the sense of mystery, which first I wrote about here. Bronte is not afraid to allow questions to go thoroughly unanswered for chapters and chapters -- who is Grace Poole? is someone really trying to kill Rochester? are there ghosts at Thornfield Hall?
Perhaps not incidentally, these are the same sections that seem to be highlighted in the new movie version coming out this spring. In fact watching the trailer made me want to read THAT book...
In the end, I enjoyed Jane Eyre well enough. I still prefer the voice, tone, humor, and unity of Jane Austen -- and I'm sure I'll never read Jane Eyre again, unlike say Pride and Prejudice, which you may recall I so thoroughly enjoyed -- but I'm glad I've read it.
One Classic Read down.
Up next... The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which I'm already halfway through. One of these days I'll get caught up!