I think my first read of "Jane Eyre" took place some time in early or middle of the teens. It was an Estonian-language hardcover copy (an ugly blue plain cover that gives you no idea of what the book might be about) that I snatched from my grandmother's bookshelf (my grandmother has a huuuuuuuuuuge library, but that is a topic that deserves a post of it's own). I definitely read it in summer, because books that I took from those shelves I read while spending vacation at grandmother's. I liked the story, but it didn't cause any life-changing or wow-effect.
I think my mum saw me read, and said something along the lines "This is a very good book". I think that is one of the only few book-related conversations me and my mother have had. She didn't used to read that much, and now that she does, our preferences in literature don't have much common ground.
Thus, having finished this book now, at the age of 30, I actually went to Goodreads and changed my rating to five stars. Because this book deserves it.
And what an interesting thing. Back in my teens, reading "Jane", I only remember the story. And some fragments of characters, because, well, they are kind of strongly painted. Reading this time, the plot was way in the background and the focus was just drawn to the characters and especially the language/dialogues. That just makes you think... all those books I read when I was younger, maybe one should pay another visit.
Back to the book. I have to confess that I have always been a bit puzzled when (female) readers, let's say, swoon over (male) characters and romances in novels. Secretly I wish I could do that too, but I can't, and I have accepted the fact that there is probably something wrong with me in that sense :p Maybe it means I don't relate enough, maybe it means romances aren't just that big of a deal for me. I do have a lovely boyfriend myself and I need to be taken care of, in real life, but I never look for it in books. (Maybe if it was a yummi very tragic and not-happy ending story...) So, given that, many have taken fancy of the romance in this particular novel and the male lead character. It does trigger my interest that both Jane E and Edward R are described to be plain and not that comely in their looks. I think that is refreshing to read nowadays (especially when put next to all these TV-things that 99% feature "beautiful people"; yes, let's not get into the concept/definition of beauty here). I can relate to Jane when she thinks
And was Mr Rochester now ugly in my eyes? No, reader: gratitude, and many associations, all pleasurable and genial, made his face the object I best liked to see; his presence in the room was more cheering than the brightest fire. /p. 128/
Yes, many associations are those that combine beauty, for me.
It's very difficult not to love Jane's character. She is an excellent role model, without being preachy or coming off fake. Just take a look at that little scene with Jane and Edward in the clothing store:
With anxiety I watched his eye rove over the gay stores: he fixed on a rich silk of the most brilliant amethyst dye, and superb pink satin. I told him in a new series of whispers, that he might as well buy me a gold gown and a silver bonnet at once: I should certainly never venture to wear his choice. /p. 236/
Bang! My kind of girl :)
However. May Edward R be what he is (with all the sneakiness and madwoman-affair), I actually started appreciating him a whole lot more after meeting the character called St John. Oh boy... He just made my hormones go all the wrong ways.
"[...] I shall be absent a fortnight - take that space of time to consider my offer: and do not forget that if you reject it, it is not me you deny, but God.[...]" /p. 362/
he writes in a note to Jane after having proposed. And what follows is
He did not leave for Cambridge the next day, as he had said he would. He deferred his departure a whole week, and during that time he made me feel what severe punishment a good yet stern, a conscientious yet implacable man can inflict on one who has offended him. Without one overt act of hostility, one upbraiding word he contrived to impress me momently with the conviction that I was put beyond the pale of his favour. /p. 363/
PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE MUCH? Yeah, I have issues with passive-aggressive people, even if they appear only in a book... Not to mention I can't really quite fathom such behaviour from any person claiming to be pious... So yes, story around St John did creep me out good while.
All in all, it was a cozy read. I think it'd make a pretty good comfort book. Language is at times lush and also sharp as a surgeon's knife, and the story itself doesn't drag nor hurry overly. If I should one day have a little girl of my own, I'd definitely stick this one in her hands first, over "Hunger Games" and whatnot other popular modern day books :)