One of my secret / not so secret fanboyisms is Jane Eyre. (/ˌdʒeɪn ˈɛə/ — just to get the debate about how to pronounce that out of the way.)
High drama, mortal threat, crushing defeats, improbable but believable triumphs, cruel twists of the fates, more crushing defeats, and a heroine who never gives up despite adversity that would break even toughsters. This book has it all, and I often annoy people when I am gushing about its many strengths.
And yet, for some curious reason many people mistakenly believe that Charlotte Bronte’s sister’s novel about people who destroy families in the moorland (Wuthering Heights) is superior. An error easily set right if they would just sit down and read Jane Eyre.
What is it about?
Jane Eyre is an orphan girl who grows up in a cruel and cold orphanage, were the children are mistreated and undernourished, and a good number of them die. But Jane Eyre, despite being a poetic and dreamy soul, manages to survive these hardships and grows up to become a capable and tough young woman … albeit one without money, so she has to seek a job as a servant. And find it in the household of Lord Rochester at Thornfield Hall.
It sounds like that’s the beginning of a classic love novelette, but instead we experience the clash of two headstrong people who have suffered a lot … and are then confronted with more suffering and bad decisions that lead to even more suffering and even worse decisions. And then it all goes …
… eh … I don’t want to drop spoilers.
Read this book.
Jane Eyre, 1847 sensation extraordinaire.
It is easily one of the best there is, and its ideally plotted structure of rising tension, crises, and setbacks is executed to perfection, and includes even a surprising shift in perspective to break the fourth wall in an elegant and tasteful way. So it is not only gripping but also quite educational.