I cannot believe I went through my whole childhood and adolescence without reading Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. I first read it during my freshman year of college and have read it annually ever since. I’m re-reading it now (we’re on Reading #4, for all my fellow math-hating English-Lit people) and I love it just as much as the first time I read it, if not more. I’m not sure why I love this book so much, especially since the first half is fairly tortuous to read. Jane’s miserable childhood is not exciting (rather, it is painful to imagine), and as my friend Valerie Campbell is quick to point out, Jane tends to err on the side of whining about it too much. But then there are the glowing monologues of Helen Burns, an impossibly wonderful human being, who (despite her unrealistic saintliness) wins my heart every time and makes me want to be a really good person too!
Anyway, I think the story really takes off when Jane reaches adulthood and longs for her liberty. Her theological journey is so intriguing to me! I love Jane because I identify with her weaknesses–her quick temper, her slowness to forgive, her reliance on human affection. It gives me hope to see her grow away from these vices and into greater virtues. But rather than babble on about the entire plot-line of this classic, let me just leave you with a quote by Muriel Clark: “Each time we re-read a book, we get more out of it because we put more into it; a different person is reading it, and therefore it is a different book.” Amen, Muriel. Justified.