Two hundred years ago this month, a famous storyteller was born. Charlotte Bronte entered the world on April 21, 1816, and her novels, particularly Jane Eyre, still entrance readers today. In fact, Jane Eyre regularly appears on “best books” and “most popular books” lists.
It is certainly my favorite novel of all time. I’ve reread it more times than I can remember. And I’ve written an homage to it, Sloane Hall, that attempts to capture its spirit while telling a new tale.
To celebrate Charlotte Bronte’s 200th birthday anniversary, I’ll be blogging a lot about her and Jane Eyre this month. Coming up will be podcasts about her most famous novel, a series of posts about all the Jane Eyre film iterations (written by my talented daughter, novelist Hannah Sternberg), poetry by a Pushcart-nominated writer, and more.
But to get the party started…here are some random thoughts from social media friends in answer to two questions:
1. When did you first read JANE EYRE — how old were you?
2. What did you particularly love about the novel (assuming you loved it)?
I think I was 12 or 13. I thought the book was filled with such agony, and made me feel very fortunate that I lived in modern times! A city treasurer
I must have read it before this, but my most memorable early reading was when I was a high school senior in New York State. I had a bit of a reputation for being smart and a good writer with an extensive vocabulary. So we had to take the New York State Regent exams, and my English exam posed an essay question on Jane Eyre for which I felt well-prepared. I did my best to write an outstanding essay. I was told later that I had indeed written a good essay but for one major fault — in my attempt to be alliterative with my three-point essay (surely a trait inherited by my pastor-father’s sermons) I had indicated that Dear Jane finally worked out that “the lover the laugher and the larcen” were all the person upstairs in the attic. I was horrified that I had confused the concepts of arson and larceny and made up a nonexistent word in the process. Forty-seven years later and my ridiculous mistake still haunts me.
My favorite thing about Jane Eyre was/is: “Reader, I married him.” An interpreter for the deaf
English 101 in college. My professor was enamored with the Romantics so I had a whole semester full of Shelley, Keats, Pope, and Ms. Jane thrown in. I would have preferred death by a thousand paper cuts but it was helpful in later life when I wanted to date above my station in life. I mean, how many men did you date that knew what a Billet Doux was? A former Army Ranger
I think my first attempt was around 13 or 14? And the truth was, I wasn’t really keen on it at first, though I loved the Rochester conversations–it wasn’t until I reread it at about 18 that I really got it. What I love is Jane’s insistence on doing things her way, according to her personal moral compass, despite all the forces pressing on her. I think she gets short shrift from some modern commentators who think she was prudish for not becoming Rochester’s mistress–it wasn’t about impressing anyone else or bowing to society, it was about what SHE felt was right, and what SHE needed emotionally from the relationship. A young novelist
1. I was about 22. 2. I loved ( and still love) Charlotte’s creativity and Jane’s self-esteem Italian lecturer at a university
Okay, what are your memories of Jane? The first time you read it? What you love about it? From those who answer, I’ll hold a drawing, and choose one winner — the prize is a copy of Sloane Hall, my own retelling of the famous Bronte novel. To enter, post a response by noon, Monday, April 4, 2016 East Coast US time. Include an email address or way to contact you in order to qualify!
And check this blog throughout the month for more posts about Charlotte and her most famous character, Jane!