I feel ashamed that I’ve neglected to re-read Jane Eyre. I think it’s been close to 15 years since I’ve even opened up my old, hardcover copy of it. After reading Becoming Jane Eyre, I’ve decided to make room in my reading plans to rectify that mistake this month.
Sheila Kohler does a beautiful job of meshing fiction with non-fiction. While this isn’t the book you want to go to for hard, true facts about the Bronte sisters, it is an interesting look at what might have been their life during the time period of attempting to get their books published. It portrays a close sisterhood but also one of jealousies and arguments. It’s a dark story with a brother gone mad, a father blinded, a love affair that is not permitted and broken hearts. Kohler does a superb job of integrating portions of Jane Eyre into her novel and then filling in the background with a “what might have been” look at its writer.
I’ve never read Wuthering Heights (something else I plan to fix). In fact, I’ve never read anything else written by the Bronte sisters. And I approached this novel knowing very little of them, in fact, only knowing that they were sisters and shared the last name.
This is also a short novel, but a fairly difficult one to read. The perspectives change quite a bit throughout the story, and it’s not clearly marked when the passages move from the Bronte’s to an excerpt out of Jane Eyre. I would say the story really didn’t grip me until about half-way through… and at that point I couldn’t put the novel down. Also, I did not feel as close of a connection with the characters in the book as I do in some of my favorite novels, but in its own way, that works for this one. I can’t explain it other than to suggest you read it for yourself and find out. But before you do, maybe take a refresher look at Jane Eyre. I wish I had done that before picking this up.