Thoughts on My Cousin Rachel, by Daphne du Maurier

My Cousin RachelLast night I finished reading My Cousin Rachel, by Daphne du Maurier. It had been at the top of my to read list for the past several years, but I never got past the first several pages until last week, which is strange, because the first several pages are almost as gripping as the first pages in Rebecca, one of my favorite classic novels.

My Cousin Rachel begins in a place similar to Rebecca, with an orphan and a gothic, almost sinister, undertone. If I hadn’t been expecting great things already judging by the woman who wrote it, I definitely was after the first chapter, and I think ultimately this is what led to my disappointment in the novel.

For those unfamiliar with the story, it is about a young man named Phillip who was raised by his cousin Ambrose. When advised to winter away from his damp home in Cornwall by his doctor, Ambrose goes south to the continent of Europe. He goes to Italy where he meets and marries his cousin Rachel. Having been a bachelor all his life, this comes as a great surprise to Phillip and their friends in Cornwall. The marriage seems to suit him until Phillip begins to receive odd letters from his cousin, and before he is able to see Ambrose again, he is dead. Did his new wife have something to do with it? How will Phillip behave once he finally meets this mysterious cousin? What about this woman caused a lifelong bachelor to finally ‘take the plunge’?

This novel lacked the feeling of suspense that I adored in Rebecca. There were no twists, no shocking revelations, and honestly once I set it down for the last time I was left wondering what the point of the book had been. I’m not saying it wasn’t compelling or well written, because it was, but there was never the sense of satisfaction in the end for me. After such a kick ass beginning, I expected more. I gave it three stars on goodreads because it is quite an entertaining book, I just took issue with the ending – it left things unresolved for me. I’m having the same issue with the ending of Gone With the Wind (I am still working on a post for that one).

For those of you who have already read it, here is a little more detail of what I thought of the story::

The beginning is excellent. It sets the tone beautifully and anchors the story in a gothic mood. The plot set-up is also perfect – a man meets a woman, marries her, has a crisis that leads to his death, and his family is left to wonder/discover whether or not this mysterious woman had a hand in it. I mean, that’s got to be an excellent story, right?

Eh.

I felt like I was turning pages in order to find out if Rachel had really had any fault in Ambrose’s death or not. Since I still don’t know for sure it just feels unfinished. I feel like the story leaves off in exactly the same place as it was after the first few chapters of the book. In the end, none of the plot really changed anything in the character’s lives. I guess I was expecting something equally mysterious and scandalous to happen to Phillip once Rachel came to town, but the only thing that happened is Phillip absolutely losing his mind in love and sabotaging himself. And yet, he wasn’t really sabotaged after all. It’s like everything that happened had the ability to be a complete disaster, but in the end Phillip is left exactly as he was after Ambrose’s death, a wealthy bachelor.

There was a looming mystery as to what Rachel’s big fault was, and all it turned out to be was a shopping addiction (who doesn’t know someone like that?). There was the giving of the estate to Rachel, and what changed for Phillip? Not a thing, except Rachel’s attitude was a bit colder (but that’s because he is a fool who expects her to marry him). There was the death of Rachel, but even that was unsatisfying. Did Phillip intend to let her die that night, or was he so preoccupied with his own mission that night that he completely forgot there was any danger in the garden? For me, it seemed like the emphasis kept falling on things that didn’t matter, and the things I was really interested in were only briefly mentioned.

In my group on goodreads, everyone seemed to agree with the implications at the end, that Rachel had been innocent the whole time and that she had done nothing wrong. But how can that be? Did he not find the poisonous seeds in her drawer? …..hello!? Was that just another figment of his imagination? …or mine? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!!

This story just wasn’t for me in the end. I still adore Rebecca, and I for sure haven’t sworn off du Maurier by any stretch, but this one just didn’t sit well with me. However, it will be lingering in the back of my mind for quite some time, I’m sure. And maybe that was the point after all.

If you’ve read My Cousin Rachel, please share your ideas with me in the comments about your theories. This is a book that begs to be discussed!

E.

A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle

This is the second Sherlock Holmes story I have read (the first was The Hound of the Baskervilles), and I have to say I remain surprised by the way they read. I suppose it is the enormous fame of the characters, the familiarity with which I felt I had with them before ever reading one of the original stories that set me up for the subtle shock they’ve given me. And at the same time I’m not surprised at all; having read Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, I was already familiarized with his writing style.

Sherlock Holmes Pipe

The Sherlock Holmes stories are very different from what you may think of as a detective or mystery novel today. If you read a modern mystery novel, subtle clues are laid out for you and persuasive writing leads you to a certain conclusion by the end of the story. A good mystery will probably have left other clues you were unaware of that will satisfy a twist ending you weren’t expecting. This novel is not like that. There are clues, yes, but goaded by questions from Dr. Watson, generally they are explained quickly and thouroughly by Sherlock Holmes leaving the reader wanting for the grand finale type reveal at the end. There is explanation at the end, a final run through if all clues and deductions in the case, but it felt very anti-climactic for me.

The other thing that surprised me about this novel was the sharp change in setting in the middle of the book. With no warning at all, suddenly you are reading a completely different story. I actually stopped the book and went on goodreads to make sure my audible download hadn’t messed up somehow. One moment you are in the thick of the investigation (the supposed bad guy has been captured!), and the next you are on another continent as an old man and a young girl are rescued in the desert by the Mormons…..it was jolting, and it didn’t make sense until much later. I am still on the fence about how effective it was. After the story was all said and done I did really enjoy having all of that background knowledge that explains the murderer’s motive intimately, yet I think it could have used a transition to anchor the reader a little bit. Perhaps if I had been reading a physical copy it wouldn’t have been so bad, that is a possibility.

Speaking on the characters themselves and the set-up of what has turned out to be an infinitely famous crime-investigating duo, I was pleased enormously. The book is written from Dr. Watson’s perspective, I believe the reader is to believe the words have been taken from his journal. It opens with the explanation of Watson’s history as a doctor with the British Army, and how he ended up in poor health recovering in London. On a search for a flat mate, he is introduced through a mutual acquaintance to Mr. Sherlock Holmes. After finding one another agreeable, they move in together. Watson is unsure at first what Mr. Holmes’ occupation may be, it is the first mystery of the novel, and once he discovers he is a consulting detective he is endlessly fascinated and becomes a tag-along to the current case. The rest, as they say, is history.

Overall I enjoyed the book. It was different from what I had expected (again, I don’t know why I expected anything different), but in the end it was a very pleasant book to read, and it came to a satisfying conclusion. I look forward to reading more of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I could probably stand to reread THotB.

On another note, I need to do some reading about the foundations of Mormonism. …cause if what this book suggests is true…yikes!

E.

 

Gone With the Wind – A Reading Journal, Part IV

This post comes to you as a series of thoughts by bullet point. Spoilers abound.

-Ashley actually does like her? I apparently misread things from the beginning. Even after that confrontation in the orchard, she is still so wild about him. I’ve been harboring that she didn’t truly love him, but now having thought of him above everyone else except herself for so many years now, maybe it is more than just infatuation. Is his side of things only lust? Or does he truly admire her? I may have to go back and reread some of their scenes at the beginning.

-I can’t believe she stole another husband out from under someone, and this time from her own sister! Scarlett is a heartless cutthroat bitch, let’s just be honest.

-Clearly Scarlett is breaking some huge stereotypes in this section by becoming a business owner as a woman. Although it is too bad that Scarlett let’s her keen business sense trump her morality. She understands the treatment of the convicts at her mills are wrong, and yet the bottom line is all she cares about at the end of the day.

-I love the term ‘scandalized’.

-I like how through most of this section Scarlett and Rhett are pretty well established friends. They are very clearly cut by the same cloth, and Rhett has known that all along. If only Scarlett had a brain! Their conversations are one of my favorite things to read. And my, Rhett has so much patience with her!

-This novel has me intrigued. I have been reading online about the civil war, and I am interested in finding some good, readable, non-fiction as well as more fiction about the American Civil War era. Anyone have suggestions on what I should add to my TBR?

-Some of these I wrote before finishing part four, but now that I have: 😱🤗😁 They’ve finally done it! And what a sweet moment the proposal was. Yes, Rhett is probably a horrible person, but he knew from the beginning that Scarlett married Frank for his money, out of necessity, for survival. With that in mind I don’t feel Rhett was a scoundrel for proposing only days after her husband’s death. I frigging love Rhett Butler. He reminds me of Mr. Rochester from my favorite classic (Jane Eyre) in many ways.

Not so many details this time, I can’t wait to finish so I can reflect on the book as a whole.

E.

Gone With the Wind, A Reading Journal – Part 1

I’m not sure how I was talked into reading this book so suddenly and completely, given that the number of books I’ve finished with upwards of 700 pages I could probably count on one hand (and all read in some other format than a printed book at that…e-books and audiobooks). I jovially call it a curse that I can’t finish books with too many pages, but I think that the real issue has to do with pacing. Long books with slow pacing inevitably have boring stretches, and I don’t have enough self-discipline to make myself keep trudging through it when another book right next to it seems to be calling out to me to pick it up. A few of them I regret not finishing; The Three Musketeers I put down right at halfway through and Anna Karenina I quit with only a quarter left to read. So basically I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping that the momentum I have going with reading lately will help me push through the 1,000 pages of this novel. So far, I’d say it’s going well. Be warned, this is a reading journal and not a book review, so there will be spoilers ahead (through part 1).

I picked up my copy of Gone With the Wind from a thrift shop for probably only a dollar or two, simply because it’s a well known classic. It’s a beaten up mass market paperback that was printed in 1973 (the twenty third printing, apparently). The edges of the pages are a vibrant red, faded just a bit near the spine on either side, and if I’m not careful with it, the cover may not survive a full read through. This is not the type of book I am attracted to. In fact, when I was working on my bookshelves over the weekend the thought of donating it back to the thrift store crossed my mind before I sighed and tucked it back away with the other mass market paperbacks I own, hidden behind the door of a cabinet. I can at least read it first, I told myself. And so I put it on my newly revised classics club list, which I posted about later that day, and by the late afternoon, I had cracked the cover and started to read.

It was a comment conversation with Jillian from Of Cannons and Books that convinced me to read it. I believe it is her very favorite book. It is hard to resist a book when someone who loves it passionately is urging you to read it. Before two days ago, I didn’t know a single thing about Gone With the Wind except that there was a guy named Rhett in it, and it had been made into a film which also became a classic. What I learned from the brief exchange with Jillian is that Gone With the Wind is my favorite kind of book, a transformational one, a great coming-of-age story, or a bildungsroman, if you will. When I read her comments on it, it rang a bell of similarity to my favorite novel, Jane Eyre. Suddenly I wanted to read about this young girl who was enormously conceited at the beginning of the novel and grows and matures as the circumstances around her change. After all, that is everyone’s story, is it not? Growing up?

What I didn’t realize until I started reading was how conceited Scarlett O’Hara is. She’s a mean girl. She steals boyfriends just to say she’s done it, and gives a cold shoulder to the girl she’s stolen him from. As I read through all of part one I was more and more surprised at just how little she cared about how her actions were effecting those around her. It served her right to hear the other girls talking about how wicked she was behind a closed door. But then to go and marry the beaux of the girl who bad-mouthed her even though she was indifferent to him at best? That’s cold. Frozen, in fact. And yet, I had a phase of Scarlett O’Hara syndrome, just after high school, when my second boyfriend broke up with me. I wanted to be wanted, and by god I was. Looking back on that time in my life makes me feel guilty and terrible, but it was only a phase, and I still had a brain (and even though it’s made clear, especially in the beginning, that Scarlett hates books and school and doesn’t value education in the least, she also isn’t stupid. Stupid people aren’t good at scheming.). Mostly Scarlett’s story so far reminds me of middle school, when everyone is hormonal and moody and likes to feel like the one in charge or the popular one.

Although Scarlett couldn’t be bothered to listen to the boys when the subject of war came up, I find I’ve enjoyed the snip-its here and there mentioning it very much. And before I forget to mention it, I think the way it is weaved into the story when the main character has no interest whatever about it is very skillful. I tip my hat to Miss Mitchell. I know almost nothing about the civil war anymore, and that is another reason I was kind of intrigued to read this. I’m especially interested to see the perspective from the confederate’s side. Already I’ve learned quite a bit, which is probably a sad testament to my public education and should probably be embarrassing to admit. One thing I found interesting, for example, is that the slaves of the rich families were considered a higher class than the poor ‘white trash’ families who survived off of the charity of their neighbors.

It always seems odd to me how eager young men always seem to be to go to war. It’s easy to say it was stupid to be that way now I suppose, knowing how bloody the Civil War turned out to be. But I do not doubt that the scenes depicted in the novel were not so different than what truly happened in some communities. I liked the passage where Mr. McRae spoke about war. “You all don’t know what war is. You think it’s riding a pretty horse and having the girls throw flowers at you and coming home a hero. Well, it ain’t. No, Sir! It’s going hungry, and getting the measles and pneumonia from sleeping in the wet.” …Not to mention death and entire fields soaked with blood and all for what? One scene from the trailer Jillian shared with me was of Scarlett walking through a field of dead and wounded men from the war. What a powerful image. It sounds weird to phrase it this way but I’m tired and can’t think of the true sentiment I’m trying to convey, but I’m really excited to read the bits about the war going forward. One of my other favorite novels, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an incredible novel about recovering from WWII in England. I guess I’m hoping for a little bit of that as well.

It’s getting late now, and I was hoping to finish this quickly so I could start part two tonight, but if I don’t get some sleep now I’m going to regret it in the morning! Thank you, Jillian, for convincing me to start this novel. I think I’m going to like it very much :-)

Goodnight!
E.

What I’m Reading | Fall 2014

Today is the official beginning of my favorite season, Autumn. As such, I thought it would be appropriate to let you guys know what is on my To-Read List for the next few months.

I’ve always felt that there are certain books that were meant to be read in the cooler months, which is what has inspired all of the books on this list (although I’m always open to impulsive reads too!).

My Cousin Rachel

The first ‘autumn’ read I’ve chosen is My Cousin Rachel, by Daphne DuMaurier. Last year I read Rebecca, and I loved it so much I wanted to reread it this year, until I found My Cousin Rachel at the bookstore last month (how did I not know this existed before?!). What I loved about Rebecca was the suspense, the mystery/plot twists, the writing style, and the gothic elements of the story, and so far I’ve not been disappointed by this book either. DuMaurier seems to have a thing for beginnings that make you beg for more, while maintaining stylistic perfection. I’m hooked, and I can’t wait to sit down with it this weekend and read as much as I can.

Dracula

I’ve also started Dracula, by Bram Stoker. I have to admit, I was not looking forward to reading this and simply chose it because it is ‘classic Halloween’, but even after only the first few pages, I knew my pre-conceived notions about this novel were dead wrong. This is a prime example of why you should not judge a book by its reputation! More about this to come in the ‘official’ review.

The Woman in White The Haunting of Hill House

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two other books I have on order and should be here this week: The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson, and The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins. I don’t know much about either of these books, but they both sound interesting and I think they’ll fit right into my autumn/spooky theme.

I’m hoping to finish these four novels before Halloween, so I’ve got a lot of reading ahead of me, but I’m up for the challenge!

In case you’re looking for some ideas for fall reading, here are some other seasonal favorites I’ve read in years past::

Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier

Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier

Out Stealing Horses

Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson

The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield

The Loch, by Steve Alten

The Loch, by Steve Alten

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

 

Thanks for reading,
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The Scarlet Pimpernel, Emmuska Orczy

The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel, Emmuska Orczy
Classic/Adventure
271 Pages
Published 1905
Goodreads Page
To Buy at Book Depository

I actually read this book back in March of this year, but I wasn’t feeling very motivated to write reviews at that time, so this is quite late! I read it with a group I am a part of on goodreads. Before that, I don’t think I’d ever heard of this novel.

I admit I rushed through this novel a little bit. Since it is so short, I wanted to knock it out quickly and move on to something I wanted to read more, which I slightly regret after the fact. It was an interesting story, and the plot was constantly moving forward, but something about it wasn’t as engaging as I’d hoped for. This novel is widely considered the first of it’s kind, a political spy/rebellious thriller complete with tricks, secret identities, and sidekicks/accomplices.

I remember being a little bit irked that the wife was not ‘allowed’ by the characters or the author to play the role that seemed natural for her to do in the climax of the plot. I felt like there was a lot of lead up to where there was a greater expectation for her part in the adventure, but all she ended up doing was solving the mystery and getting herself in the way. For that reason, it wasn’t my favorite book, but I do appreciate it for what it is, and I’m glad this novel opened the creative door for future works such as Zorro and other political mysteries and thrillers.

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Book Review:: Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights CoverWuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Classic Literature
Pages:: 337 Pages
Published:: December 1847
Goodreads Page
To By on Amazon

 

Summary::
Mr. Lockwood is the new tenant of a property that neighbors the landlord’s, Wuthering Heights. When he calls over to meet the man, who is known only as Heathcliff, he is astounded by how unapologetically abrupt he is, and by the strange ways about the three who live in the house. When a snow storm prevents Lockwood from going home, he is forced to stay at Wuthering Heights overnight. Convinced throughout the night that the house is haunted and that the occupants in the house are not quite sane, he leaves as soon as possible the next morning. Once home, Lockwood inquires about those who dwell at Wuthering Heights to his housekeeper, Nelly, who has been an occupant of the grounds since she was a little girl. And so, through the long winter nights, Nelly tends to Mr. Lockwood and weaves for him the story of Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights. Through these dual narrators, the story of Wuthering Heights is unveiled to us, from the moment Heathcliff was brought to live there as a young orphan by Mr. Earnshaw, through the present.
Review::
Wuthering Heights is the type of book you feel compelled to describe simply by the tone: sombre, eerie, foreboding, sinister. It is exactly the type of story to read on a gloomy overcast day, curled up with a blanket a hot cuppa.
As far as classics are concerned, I don’t feel that Wuthering Heights is a particularly hard one to swallow. I read it just after finishing Mansfield Park, and I must say, this book felt like a breeze compared to that one (not that MP was particularly difficult or intense, more like dry). Wuthering Heights has a much more modern feel to it than many classics, and I feel like it would appeal to a wider audience than, say, The Scarlet Letter, and you won’t need sparknotes or a teacher to decode it as you read, like Shakespeare, or…The Scarlet Letter ;-)
Recommendation::
I would recommend Wuthering Heights to people who are looking for a good gothic page-turner to read, as I mentioned above, on a gloomy, overcast, reading-in-bed kind of day. It reminds me most of The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield, which I realize now draws heavily from this book. If you’ve read it and enjoyed how the story unfolds, you will definitely enjoy Wuthering Heights.

Rebecca, Daphne DuMaurier

If you didn’t catch my Currently Reading post, then you don’t know the interesting circumstances surrounding my beginning to read this book.

So there we were, boy trying to make me watch sprint car videos on YouTube – when I struck a deal with him: I will watch your videos, if you pick a book for me to read. I was really hoping he’d peruse them for awhile, pulling certain volumes out and reading about them, or at least look at the covers, but no, he looked from a few feet away for about 38 seconds and settled on Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier.

I usually tell him to pick what movie we’ll watch, and then I’ll refuse to watch what he picked and we’ll watch what I want after all, so I had to read this book – especially because I instigated the whole thing. And luckily, I did.

I was struck by the writing right away. The beginning dream sequence is really exquisite. I didn’t read anything about this novel before I started reading, so I didn’t know what to expect at all. I didn’t know that the first line of this novel is considered one of the greatest in classic literature, and actually, even now I’m not sure it is – I only saw that in one place, but I have to agree:

‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.’

Its pretty mesmerizing in itself. Where is Manderley? What kind of dream was it? How many times has she dreamt it? Does it occur every night? Is it a special place to her, is that why she’s dreaming of it? It’s a sentence that makes you beg for more – a fine example of du Maurier’s skillful and suspenseful writing throughout the novel.

I’m not sure why I’m so often surprised at how good classic literature is. Mesmerized is a good word, so I’ll use it again – it’s how I felt when reading this book. I don’t usually read books that are so…suspenseful. It’s hard to say what created the suspense here, after all, there’s not terribly much action – it’s set in high class England around the 30s (I assume), which is a period where high class English women didn’t really do a whole lot besides plan parties and keep their husband company when that was convenient. It was the beginning dream sequence, the description of the absolute abandonment of this place she apparently cherished…what could have happened to make them leave so completely and so abruptly? Was it terribly traumatic? What could it have been? I spent the duration of the novel waiting for any clues as to what it could have been – a small spark that festered…or something sudden and catastrophic? It created quite a bit of suspense that carried most of the way through the novel on its own.

Prepare yourself, Spoilers follow throughout the end of this post::

Our narrator, a ‘young’ girl, nearly a child still who marries Maxim de Winter – she is nameless and ageless. She is an introvert, like me, and harbors deep insecurities about her marriage because she is her husband’s second wife, and she knows very well that he was very happy with his first one before her sudden death the previous year. She is haunted by the thought of this woman, someone much older than her with the confidence and training of someone in the upper class. Her thoughts fill up with imaginations of what Rebecca, the first wife, would have done in every situation; what she smelled like, how she moved across a room, how she would have given orders to the servants, how she would have acted with Maxim…the thoughts often tormented her, and yet, her curiosity and insecurity drove them on. I believe it made her unhappy in her marriage, in which she would have been much more care-free, and Maxim would have been much more likely to fall in love with her. It was really quite sad to ‘hear’ the narrator’s thoughts as she was looking forward to their wedding, how she continually thought Maxim was ‘forgetting’ to mention that he loved her, that they would be terribly happy. I would continually wonder why this girl just let the house maids and women around town control her. She is the new Mrs. de Winter! She is now on equal status to Rebecca. I wanted to shout at her to rearrange the house, to throw out the old coats, to tell her husband, ‘Yes, I broke the Cupid figurine! It was an accident but I didn’t like it anyway. I would rather have my art books on the morning-room desk!’ The girl seriously needs to grow a backbone. How she sat and let people talk around her when at tea, whether she way calling on them or the other way round. She seems so nearly pathetic.

And then…

At the turning point in the novel, and I won’t spoil it for you, in case you’re still reading and haven’t read the book yet…the narrator really impresses me. It’s not because what she had felt was justified, or that her reaction to her husband’s confession was ‘right’ or even admirable, but because I’m a woman, and I’ve been insecure in love. I suddenly understood her. In fact, our unnamed narrator and I seem to have quite a bit in common. My only complaint about the whole thing is the beginning, which is supposed to be the end. She still sounds unhappy, although all of her fears are supposed to have been abolished, in the end. I can’t understand it.

Maxim himself is quite a mystery. To me, he was unpredictable. For someone so miserable, why does he even want to marry someone new? It seems like everyone was quite upset about Rebecca with him, and wouldn’t have minded if he died a widower. It’s not like he needed someone to spend his money for him, right? But then it is said that the pervious year he was close to break-down, and now that he’s married he looks much healthier – perhaps he married her to simply take his mind off of the past quite more than he was able to by himself? It baffles me that the narrator is objective enough to realize that he treats her in the same manor as the dog, Jasper; something to consider almost absent-mindedly, who at times it is inconvenient to be around, and at best can only offer a sense of companionship, nothing like equality or could possibly have something to teach him. It made me sad to read.

And then…

Everything changed in that one paragraph, didn’t it? I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that had such a twist before (Except perhaps the last page of Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult). Maxim turned out to be both much more sinister, more passionate, and more respectable all with one little word. I can understand people comparing him to Edward Fairfax de Rochester, and yet, it doesn’t fit with me. Rochester was more compassionate – less impulsive – more manipulative. But both he and Maxim de Winter are driven by the same mistake: marrying the wrong woman, and it leads them both to do dangerous and disastrous things. I am kind of repulsed by Maxim though, as much as I want to like him. How he had to lie and deceive for those ten months, to everyone around him. He went the opposite route, because of circumstances of course, Rochester had gone to his wife’s land, and Rebecca had gone to de Winter’s; it’s not as if he could have just fled his ancestor’s property that he had loved…

I literally gasped at the end of chapter 19 – the revelation frankly shocked me, and yet, as the narrator was, I was relieved.

Ah, the feeling you have after reading a good book. I haven’t compulsively read anything like that since Jane Eyre, and technically that was an audiobook. Good choice, my love.

See ya next time,
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Jane Eyre – Video Book Discussion

Hello everyone,

So….I have a youtube channel. It’s very new, but I talk about books there, so perhaps some of you will be interested in seeing what I’ve uploaded. I thought post this video I’d recently done about Jane Eyre (my favorite book!) and see what you guys think. Should I include more of my YouTube videos here on my blog, or just link it in the ‘Contact’ page?

Anyway – I’m not a very good editor yet, but I try! I hope you enjoy :-)

Thanks for watching,

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Jane Eyre -Thoughts Through the Ending

The story takes off at the start of Chapter ten. This is where Jane passes from childhood dependence to slowly attaining her adult independence. She realizes she has to take charge of her future, for she is in control of it, and prepares for a change.

But I want to step back for just a moment, and discuss a characteristic of Jane’s. She shows her passion in childhood. She cannot quite account for complete unreasonableness from others, and often outbursts with what she sees as the truth, or what might be fair. Often she is reprimanded for this, but it is what I think we, as readers, respect most about this young character, and what catches the attention of her future lovers’ eye. It this part of why I feel this novel is more modern than I’d expected?

Miss Temple is the one who really turns Jane’s life, I think. Having an adult to consider her story as she had to tell it, and not to only rely on the accounts of adults (who most always have motives of their own), who showed her kindness and fairness. She is the most kind adult Jane encounters in her childhood. Paired with Helen, they serve as her true hope for Jane, that her life would not be only misery for her entire life. I was so glad to hear that she and Jane had become such close friends.

I was genuinely interested in what would happen to Jane once she left Lowood: what type of situation this would be for her, and if it would last long. It’s where I realized that I was actually enjoying a 19th century character driven novel – a first for me. I loved how assertive Jane was becoming, and her little talk to herself about getting a new life. Her friend, Miss Temple, had just been married and left Lowood, and Jane had no more desire to stay. Struck by a sudden thought, she knows she must advertise herself as a governess and see if there are any replies.

I do wonder about one thing here. Jane advertised in the newspaper closest to Lowood, and yet the journey to Thornfield is quite long. Is it the same newspaper that is popular/available at Millcote AND Lowton? It must be, because Mrs. Fairfax found her through the ad (and the only one, in that great distance, who replied). Then, perhaps it isn’t quite as far as I’m thinking. Because it took her an entire day traveling in a carriage, which is quite longer than if a man was riding purposefully on horseback carrying information (though not bushels of newspapers). I’m not sure it’s quite so large a quarrel that research into 19th century newspaper practices will be necessary to ease my mind :-)

I loved the suspense of Jane’s entry to Thornfield. Her puzzlement caused by her assumption that the one who answered her advertisement was the head of the house was very charming. She assumed quite a lot from such a short answer. Since I read the synopsis on the back of the audiobook, it, of course, mentioned a Mr. Rochester, which caused me to itch for him to make his appearance. Because of this, I already suspected something, and knew instantly as a form came trotting over the hill – it was him.

Religion::
I have to say that as I read the theme of religion wasn’t really on my radar. I’m not interested in it, besides, but I thought of it more of characterization that religious commentary. I of course hated all religious alluding in the opening of the book, and especially Mr. Brocklehurst, but beyond that, I didn’t really pick up on much by way of religion. I really think of everyone in the book, my closest religious affiliation would be Edward Rochester. Not in his actions, of course, but they way he speaks of and references to God as ‘my maker’. I like this because it does not name one as such, and really, that’s where I am spiritually right now. Perhaps in another reading I would identify or at least notice more of the religious undertones in this novel. I will let them pass me by this time, happily.

Mrs. Reed::
I do not understand Mrs. Reed. I can see how her feeling toward Jane began and continued…but WHY did she have to just hate her on principal? Just because her husband loved his sister so dearly? It’s ridiculous, though it is a truism that women exist like this, in every generation. I hate that she tried to create such a harsh environment for Jane once she couldn’t stand to have her in her own house anymore…what reason could she have for telling Mr. Brocklehurst such hateful and untrue things except absolute hatred and spite?? It’s almost revolting to think of it.

The Romance::
I had a building feeling in my stomach (there is no other way to describe it) as I read Jane’s meeting of the stranger on the road and her return to Thornfield. When she saw the dog in Mrs. Fairfax’s room I had to smile to myself. Of course he was the master of the house. Was there anyone else who would be on that road who wasn’t coming to or leaving Thornfield? They both should have known each other on the road. Sweet Jane was frightened by childhood stories, and Mr. Rochester, obviously distracted by his injury. When I think of this first meeting, I smile::

“’I cannot think of leaving you, sir, at so late an hour, in this solitary lane, till I see you are fit to mount your horse.’
He looked at me when I said this; he had hardly turned his eyes in my direction before.
‘I should think you ought to be home yourself,’ said he,’ if you have a home in this neighborhood. Where do you come from?’
‘From just below; and I am not at all afraid of being out late when it is moonlight. I will run over to Hay for you with pleasure, if you wish it: indeed, I am going there to post a letter.’
‘You live just below-do you mean at that house with the battlements?’

‘Yes, sir.’
‘Whose house is it?’
‘Mr. Rochester’s.’
‘Do you know Mr. Rochester?’
‘No, I have never seen him.’”

Sigh. One has to admit the trickery Mr. Rochester possesses. Did this man invent playing love games; he seems rather good at them. He claims later to have loved Jane from the beginning, and yet he is constantly trying to convince her he is to marry another. What evil tricks! Would I call him dishonest? I don’t think so. While he does eventually come right out and say he will marry Miss Ingram, I’m not quite sure he’s completely decided on the matter when he does so, and at the same time, I am. The emotions in this book are so complex!

The more time that has elapsed between my first reading of the story, the more I see of faults in Mr. Rochester. I’m not saying that my opinion of him is changing, just that I can see what others may find imperfect and unlikable about both him and the book in general (I’ve been searching for them). I will address all of them I’ve noticed before the end, and try my best to argue them (you skeptics!)– or at least explain why I, as a reader, am able to look past them.

At Thornfield, the tone of the book becomes more lighthearted, I’d say – Jane is no longer oppressed by anyone. The interactions between her and Mr. Rochester always, at the same time, make me laugh and pull at my heart-strings. His swearing (“What the deuce is to do now?”,”What the deuce have you done with yourself this last month”) never ceases to put a smile on my face. Perhaps at the time it would have been much more intimidating, but it makes me regard him more endearingly. I apologize, Reader, if I ramble on here forever never-ending about the exquisite love between this pair. I cannot help myself. As I read it now for the second time, I have decidedly paid quite closer attention to his and her early interactions, and I have to say, I love all of their exchanges.

When he first calls Jane to him to be introduced, I was a little surprised at how much he asked to know of her. He was very short, he wanted only the information as it was, and yet her answers were always clever. She always answered directly, but thoughtfully as well. He was immediately interested, I could see. While he asked her very general questions at first, he always seemed to take it just one step too far, and though Jane and Mrs. Fairfax may not have noticed it, I think he does (whether intended or not). He tests her frequently in their first few conversations. Why did she not demand a gift, as Adele did; What did she think of the man who ran her school; how did she come to be there, at Thornfield?; What were her accomplishments, did she take no pride in any of them? He is an interrogator, and she keeps right up with him. He is bold and straight-forward (today you may even call him rude, though we no longer have such a class system that then prevented him from being so), she confident and comfortable.

Because I am a very shy person myself, I can relate to many things regarding that issue with Jane. There are two examples here I think are responsible for sparking the romance between she and Mr. Rochester in the first place, because if Jane hadn’t been so inertly comfortable with him, I think the odds of Rochester noticing her in such a profound way would have been unlikely after these first impressions::

“I felt no fear of him, and but little shyness. Had he been a handsome, heroic-looking young gentlemen, I should have not have dared to stand thus questioning him against his will, and offering my services unasked. I had hardly ever seen a handsome youth; never in my life spoken to one. I had a theoretical reverence and homage for beauty, elegance, gallantry, fascination; but had I met those qualities incarnate in masculine shape, I should have known instinctively that they neither had nor could have sympathy with anything in me, and should have shunned them as one would fire lightening or anything else that is bright but antipathetic.
If even this stranger had smiled or been good-humored when I had addressed him; if he had put off my offer of assistance gaily and with thanks, I should have gone on my way and not felt any vocation to renew inquiries: but the frown, the roughness of the traveler set me at my ease…”

“I sat down quite disembarrassed. A reception of finished politeness would probably have confused me: I could not have returned or repaid it by answering grace and elegance on my part; but harsh caprice laid me under no obligation; on the contrary, a decent quiescence, under the freak of manner, gave me the advantage. Besides, the eccentricity of the proceeding was piquant: I felt interested to see how he would go on.”

This leads me to one ‘argument’, well perhaps two. Why does Rochester bother with Adele’s governess at all? He does not even like the child, on most days (who has got to remind him of his ‘stupidity’ in France, another ghost that follows him around). Thornfield is only one house, of presumably many (at least two), and he does not even delight in staying there because of the guilty curse he hides on the third story. I mean, it’s unheard of for a man of his status to marry anywhere below him, unless, of course, it secures him connections, more wealth, or some other benefit. Jane offers nothing, and she’s merely a child! Rochester is twice her age! Could this book be any more unlikely? Keep reading, Reader, to hear my defense of this troubled man.

To me it was apparent after the second meeting they were both falling in love. When he takes her out to explain his tryst with the French Oprah singer, Celine (Adele’s mother), it’s sealed. Why would a man of his stature feel remotely compelled to share any of his life at all with a governess? Perhaps because it is the story of how he has come to have Adele in his keeping, yes, but to tell her of that “green snake of jealousy”? How appropriate is it? Even Rochester remarks about it:

“Strange that I should choose you for the confidant of all this, young lady; passing strange that you should listen to me quietly, as if it were the most usual thing in the world for a man like me to tell stories of his opera-mistresses to a quaint, inexperienced girl like you!”

He is also bold in this meeting:

“You never felt jealousy, did you, Miss Eyre? Of course not: I need not ask you; because you never felt love. You have both sentiments yet to experience: your soul sleeps…”

He soon makes sure she’s felt it. He hopes, anyway, as I’m not sure how confident he is in her love for him even on the night he proposes, because he seems a little timid to ask her until she gives herself entirely away. In fact, I believe the real change starts to happen when Jane asks a leave of absence. It is then Rochester makes it obvious he needs her near him. What a clever mind Miss Bronte had, to invent this little scenario: first, to offer her entirely too much, then a fair amount, and then trying to take it away so she will not be able to stay gone long, it’s adorable, exactly like young love. While Jane was away, she sketched a portrait of him, impulsively – a perfect rendition- and another moment of pure romance, yet suspended, for that is the honest truth of courtship, is it not? The uncertainty of how the other feels, uncertainty of the ending.

This is the first time, I think, that the reader is really shown how much self-loathing Rochester has for himself, although we do not understand the half of it, yet. I saw an interview with Toby Stephens, who played Rochester in a 2006 adaptation of the book, and a few of his comments were at the same time odd, and a little off the mark, I think, but at the same time circle the truth.

Rochester is living with the past actions of having held these mistresses around Europe (he has an extensive sexual history). Toby wanted to bring that forward, his sexuality (as I said, circled the truth). I think Toby took this out of context a little bit, for his character: Mr. Rochester is not a static character in this book, he is as dynamic as they come. I think that at first, in his whirlwind through Europe and all his mistresses, he was driven by a physical need, at least in part, and a vengeful need to take what he thought was his (women, in short). I think by the time we meet him, he has come to realize that his actions of the last decade brought him no joy, didn’t fill the second half of his heart. He had given up finding peace, I think, and had come to bear his curse once more. I don’t understand why he was set on legally wedding another – especially if he was considering Blanche Ingram (so he didn’t die a bachelor in everyone’s eyes?). But was he?

He may not have felt guilty about the dalliance as a rich proper man of his time, and yet we find out that he’s married. He settled with himself in Spanish Town many years before, yes, but it does not change the fact. Every time the thought of his wife came into his head he must have felt intense guilt of himself, and therefore hatred of her. Is he a bad man for wanting – needing – companionship? You may think so. I, however, am an empathetic person, and can understand him, as a man, as a human being, as one who longs for a partner in the world. You must admit, then, even if you dislike the man, that the weight bearing down on him of his past actions, and current ones, was enormous. Have you started to understand him?

The next thing we know, Jane is rescuing the man from a fire set on him in the middle of the night.

Telling the story to Adele in the carriage – so cute that he made up a whole story about taking Jane to the moon…’Mademoiselle is a fairy’.
It was adorable to see Rochester’s love finally free to express. He automatically resorts to the type of adornment someone of his class would expect and adore, not realizing that Jane does not care about any of it. Money means nothing to her, jewels and materialistic things? Meaningless. She’d lived as such a simple girl for so long that she didn’t know how to react when he started to flatter her so completely, and he really didn’t understand where she was coming from, it was completely foreign to him.

Perhaps you thought Rochester was a pompous ass during this portion of the book, but he is just expressing his love in a very flamboyant way, as someone of his class would do. In fact, I was a little more annoyed with Jane just after the proposal. To refuse to eat with him, just because she never did before; to insist on staying Adele’s governess and even keeping her salary; come on Jane, be reasonable – you are marrying into the upper class. You are no longer a ‘servant’! I feel like these few pages sort of break up the intense romance – and it shows that they are both real characters who aren’t perfect.

Another of my favorite scenes in the book is where Jane is waiting in the rain for Rochester to return from business. The first thing he says is so terribly adorable::

“’There!’ he exclaimed, as he stretched out his hand and bent from the saddle: ‘You can’t do without me, that is evident. Step on my boot-toe; give me both hands: mount!’

‘This is you, who have been as slippery as an eel this last month, and as thorny as a briar-rose? I could not lay a finger anywhere last month, but I was pricked; and now I seem to have gathered up a stray lamb in my arms. You wandered out of the fold to seek your shepherd, did you, Jane?’”

Rochester just seems so gentle and protective here, the rush and show of love now gone – this quiet gentle love is what remains.

P.S. – I talk more about the romance in the ending section, don’t worry!

The Grace Poole Mystery::
I’d mentioned before that I’d had this book assigned to read in high school (senior year, in fact), and that I did not read it then. I did, however, sit in on a few in-class discussions of it. Of course I did not remember anything of what they were about, since I had no context to place them in, having not read the book myself (slacker, I know)…but when Grace Poole came into the story, it seemed familiar to me. I was actually fooled, as I was reading, to think that it was really Grace who was crazed, and that there was no other. When it was revealed he was married, I figured it was Grace Poole, not an additional person altogether. I’m still kind of amazed that the secret was kept so completely. Now on my second read through, I realized Mrs. Fairfax tells us a good chunk of Mr. Rochester’s history after Jane first meets him. If you’re watching closely, she nearly gives it away then (is she being honest when she says she doesn’t know the full story??).

I am a little confused, though, still. I seem to remember Mr. Rochester saying that Grace, and the surgeon were the only ones who knew about Bertha Mason, but then Mrs. Fairfax knows nearly the whole story, and Jane overhears other servants speaking about wages – and it’s alluded that they both know what Grace Poole is charged with doing. Can anyone clear this up for me? I’m genuinely curious.
If I may mention a point I brought up in my last post, that no part of this book is boring (to me), I am quite surprised now that I’m reading it another time at just how little else is discussed in the book besides in what the reader is keenly interested. Are we manipulated in that way, as readers? Is Jane retelling a biased story that makes us love Mr. Rochester as much as she does?
Although Jane has not much interaction with anyone, or has much else to occupy her time with, it seems as soon as Mr. Rochester is introduced, we hear little else than their interaction….and that’s not entirely true, Jane is very observant when the party arrives at Thornfield, albeit with a jealous eye that is naturally drawn to her love whenever he is present. Perhaps what I’m trying to express is that there is no filler here. Everything explained in the story is relevant, and I am very glad it doesn’t try to explain the events of every day that transpires, for that would have made a more boring book. I’m not sure how editing worked in the mid-1800s, and I’d be very interested to learn about it, but I think Charlotte must have been largely a great self-editor to her own work. Perhaps I keep mentioning this, because I don’t see it very often anymore. It seems nearly every book I’ve ever read has had at least a short portion that didn’t interest me at all.

The Masons/The Marriage::
Part of the reason I feel I can have sympathy for Mr. Rochester is the story he desperately tells Jane about his first marriage. This comes with age and maturity, I think. If I read this in high school, I would not have had as much empathy with him, because at 17 I already thought I was making the best decisions, and I didn’t see my own immaturity and mistakes. Now that I’m 24, I can already understand that late-teens/early- twenties are impulsive and reckless in many ways, even without meaning to be.

I am a little disgusted that Rochester assumes that Jane will take it all in stride, like nothing happened, and continue to live with him unchanged…but I also feel terribly sorry for him. Here is a man who trusted his father and his family, who basically set up the marriage for him. He didn’t realize that all his father was after was the fortune, that he didn’t know himself the extent of the family’s problems. Edward was young, and for those of us who are older than 20/21, we can understand what that means. Not only was he young himself, and trusted that his father was making him a good match, but he was being blatantly deceived as well, by the family he was to wed into. He was not really even allowed to converse with her alone, or even be anywhere near her. In my eyes, Rochester does redeem himself by taking the blame, at least in part, of marrying Bertha without really knowing her at all.

Does Rochester need a partner so desperately now because he was denied even the thought of one as a young man? If he had married Bertha and she turned into an indifferent wife, would he have been happy, would he have had the affairs? He said himself he did not know her at all before they were married, which is still his fault. But then would the family have kept her so distant besides? Would they have buttered him up so thoroughly to where Rochester was pressured to make the decision right away? All of the pieces fall together in a way that takes blame, at least partly, from him. He was the victim of a cheap trick, and a terrible one.

The entire scene, starting at the church, through to her finally recovering in the house of her cousins, puts me in a foul mood to read. I am just so emotionally invested in the characters and the love story that I am completely devastated to see them torn apart. The scene where Rochester waits outside her room is brutal, and yet hopelessly romantic. He waited for her! She thought he had given up on her, and would send her away to not remind himself of shame, and there he was – it was true love, no games, just raw, rough, and real. But that makes it all the more heart breaking.

“I fell, but not on to the ground: an outstretched arm caught me. I looked up- I was supported by Mr. Rochester, who sat in a chair across my chamber threshold.
‘You come out at last,’ he said. ‘Well, I have been waiting for you long, and listening: yet not one movement have I heard, nor one sob: five minutes more of that death-like hush, and I should have forced the lock like a burglar.’”

The distinct agony that must have been piercing his heart; the absolute petrifying fear that he must have had to have – at last – found exactly what he wanted only for it to be trampled and destroyed in front of him, and could do nothing but watch.

Am I covering his faults too fully, Reader? Have I read the words of his life and this profound love story, and fallen in love with it all? Perhaps. I do not deny his faults, and his atrocities, he has made very bad choices. But it is true love that drives this story, and that scarcely graces the pages of most. Wonder, lust, enamor-ment, and yes, even love fill most pages in the literary world. But true love? True love will conquer all. True love knows no bounds, and will shape the lives of those captured by it – instantly and completely. It is true love that allowed Jane to forgive him, through all::

“Reader, I forgave him at the moment and on the spot…I forgave him all: yet not in words, not outwardly; only at my heart’s core.”

But she still left.

Jane’s Family::
Left in such desolation from the previous scene, I was only half listening to most of the narrative that followed. Jane was completely destitute. She did not want to beg, but eventually had to, and still, did not receive what she needed. It is made clear that if the Rivers family did not take her in that fateful rainy night, she would have surely died.

Comparing the length of this section and my thoughts about it, I don’t really have much to say. I think it would be better to take a break before continuing to read after they take her in. The story does a lot to interest you and get the tone back up to a normal plane…but I still felt heartbroken, and I think that’s okay, because Jane was too.

It is refreshing to see Jane find new friends, even before we find that she is related to them. It does seem a little bit strange that she stays with them so long, but I think that was largely due to the time period, and St. John (Sinjin) did say he was going to find some situation for her, which he eventually did, working for him in a school he was setting up. It was nice to see scholarly women, who loved to learn in their spare time for fun (although it is said that they’d make more money once they learned German…). Women after mine own heart. I also am teaching myself German from nothing but lexicon…quite a difficult task, I can assure you, and I don’t have nearly as much time to devote to is as they seem to.

That leads me to another thing. What a glorious time in history this must have been, where people really didn’t have jobs. Not any jobs like I have, anyway. If you were a servant, you had your responsibilities, your salary, and you got your room and board in your masters house (which I daresay were quite exquisite). Not too bad of a deal, really, and those were the lowest in the household. Apparently housekeepers and governess’ were quite more respected as well, and had a little less to do (mostly ordering the lowly servants around), and got paid more, stayed in a better part of the house, etc. At the end of the day though, all these women basically had nothing to do with their time. For example, Blanche Ingram. What had she to fill her time, besides masquerading with suitors and showing off her piano skills and bloated ego? No wonder she and her mother were so disagreeable, they had nothing substantial to do with their lives. It is nice though, to dream of having nothing to do all day for an extended amount of time. You could do something like teach yourself German. And it seems to me the men of the house are just always ‘handling accounts’ (in Anna K too!). Someone please tell me what this means. The rents from their lands? The buying and selling of property? I assume it’s somewhere along those lines.

I wonder at Jane’s happiness once she is settled in to teaching at the school for uneducated farm kids. The tone is a lot different now than it was earlier in the book. She is much more mature, but she is also unhappy. She seems to have completely dismissed happiness, which makes sense, since she knows she cannot go back to her true love, who is a married man, and therefore can never be happy as she once was. She is, in some ways, haunted by the ghost of him…the shadow, the idea, the memory. She is content, that much is sure. She likes her new friends, Diana, Mary, and Sinjin, and she likes teaching well enough and especially likes the marked improvement of her students. But not truly happy.

I was a little bit shocked that SInjin decided he wanted Jane for his wife, just so she could go to India ona mission trip with him. I still think it’s a little ridiculous that he so steadfastly held that belief, but then again, he was stubborn about many things. I noticed the commentary, or perhaps it wasn’t, about how Sinjin was in lust with the most beautiful girl in town though he was basically a priest. At least he didn’t act on it…and I did respect his speech about how she would not suit him as a wife, and neither him, her husband. He is a smart man, aside from the stubbornness. I’m not sure why Jane loves him though, even as a cousin/brother. He only seems very nice to her once or twice during the whole recounting of that period. I’m very glad she refused him, obviously. She knew in her heart that it was not a good match, because even though she had thought herself void of a future with love, she didn’t want one without it either – how very human of her.

Ending::
As the book nears the end, Jane, who is telling us this story of her life, more and more often addresses us as readers. I have to tell you I loved this. Each time I heard the word, said, of course, in an English accent (Ree-da), I was compelled – to her, to Jane. I’m scarcely sure I’ve ever been so close to another literary character in my entire literary life. I’m not sure if I’d have been as touched if I didn’t feel like it was Jane herself telling me her own tale (listening to it as an audiobook, that is), but as it is, Jane is now a friend of mine, which I will visit often enough in my life. And since, in this post I’ve obviously got spoilers abounding, I will say what touched my heart to the core on this point:

‘Reader, I married him.’

Now you, my Reader, I must tell you the fervor I felt as this story crept ever nearer to its resolution. On the last day of listening, I started at a place I’d already listened to, because I’d loved it so dearly: that moment where Jane Eyre returned from her stay at Gateshead Hall after Mrs. Reed had passed from the world. That moment where Jane stepped out for a walk in the garden, where she tried to conceal herself from the approaching Mr. Rochester in the hanging ivy, but who, of course, had been watching her and in fact sought her out to ask the single most influential question of a person’s life. Ah, love. I will never forget this everlasting moment. Perfect, exactly, for the two people it contained. Oh anyway! It translates to about 200 pages in my copy of the book to the end from there. I listened all day at work, with minimal pauses (don’t worry, I was still getting all my work done), I listened during my breaks, all through lunch, in the car ride home, and didn’t stop when I was there. I could not stop. I started tidying up laundry and organizing little areas about my room as Jane returned to Thornfield. I literally stopped everything I was doing in shock….several times, until Jane found herself seated again upon his knee in the parlor of Ferndean. It’s astounding to think how few words laid bare before you can bring a person to their knees. ‘Late Mr. Rochester’ nearly stopped my heart, I swear to you!

Was Jane able to stay and live with Rochester for the duration of her days just because she had proved to herself she was not one who lived guided by passion, would she still have done if she found Rochester in the same state as when she’d left him? With his wife still shut away and he, still married to another?

If ever a book has been worth the hours spent reading it, it is this one. Although there are quite a many tangents that don’t have to do with the romance this novel is greatly about, I was not bored exploring them. Once only did I have the urge to at least skip ahead (something I did not do, mostly because of the audio format), and that was continually during Jane’s stay with Diana, Mary, and St. John (Sinjin). I did not know how the novel would conclude at that point. I did not know if we would ever see Mr. Rochester again, or if this would turn out to be some sort of feminist independency preaching thing that would have an ending contrary to what it should have just to do it. I feared that happening, really, as I have no experience with other books of the time period, and I’ve read several bad ones which do that exact thing. I would have been devastated to have that happen, once I’d been so captured by its every move.

After all the suspense, mystery, and utter emotional distress the last pages of this story brought me, I could not have ever imagined a more perfect and resounding ending to such a tale. My heart is completely satisfied, if not more so. I feel privileged to have read this book, and I’m glad I waited until now, when I could properly appreciate it, to read it, instead of doing it as an obligation, where I probably would never have visited the pages again. Reading for school is a means to an end. Reading for pleasure is a true joy of life.

Other books I read and feel quite completed, setting them in their place on a bookshelf to be recalled at some leisurely future date, but with this, I feel different. I feel I cannot close it up and keep it at any distance away from my reach. I have not finished with its pages, its characters, its story. I have begun to read it again, in my leather-bound copy. I’ve been sticky noting its pages in excess all the lines and passages that move me, words that I love, essential plot developments, and any other thing that takes my fancy. I love this book, as I’ve loved no other non-living thing. It’s part of me now; perhaps it’s changed my literary life, but how can I tell so soon? All I know is that I love it, and that I cannot think of putting it down. You’ve not heard the end of this yet :-)

-Emma