I am having a bit of a Bronte Revival after watching a television adaptation of their lives. As with all adaptations it seems, there were parts I disagreed with, but it served a purpose in that it has made me want to re-read all the major works as well as the biographies.
I first read Jane Eyre (or rather my Mum read it to me) when I was about eight. Back then, I loved it just for the power of the narrative. I cried for Helen Burns and when Jane and Rochester were finally married.
I read it again as part of my degree, although ‘read’ is rather a misappropriation of the term as the story itself was almost disregarded in favour of a mad excavation of imagery, rather like looking for fossils on a beach and missing the sunset.
So this is actually my third reading, although the story is so well-known and seems so familiar that I might as well have read it ten times. However, I treated this like the first time and, while not unaware of the author’s techniques and literary references, I also soaked up the sheer majesty of the plot. Yes there are some unbelievable events, such as the way that Jane hears Rochester calling to her after St. John has proposed, but the madwoman in the attic is entirely plausible and is a menacing presence throughout the entire novel.
Far from being a ‘dusty old classic’, this is a vibrant and faced paced thriller which still holds its own against all modern offerings.