Elizabeth Buchan: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Author, Elizabeth Buchan selects a much-loved classic for our Book of the Month.

Elizabeth not only writes novels, non-fiction, and short stories (broadcast on BBC Radio 4) but also reviews books and judges for various literary prizes and awards. Find out more about one of her favourite reads, below!

When Charlotte Bronte’s first novel, The Professor, was rejected by a publisher, he advised that she write instead something ‘wild, wonderful and thrilling’.

She complied, producing her extraordinary story of an orphan’s struggle to make her way in Victorian England. Although considered by some to be shocking when it was published in 1847, it was a sensation and has never been out of print since.

Badly treated as a child and seemingly friendless, the young Jane ends up a governess at Thornfield which is owned by the dictatorial but intriguing Mr Rochester. She falls in love, agrees to marry, only to find that she has been deceived and flees. The flight nearly costs her life, her grief is profound and she is plunged into an acute psychological crisis. That she survives, and subsequently triumphs, is a tribute to Jane’s innate stubbornness, resilience and also to the kindness of strangers – something which she has not often experienced.

Throughout the novel, Jane never underestimates the power of social convention in a society (where women come second) and religious morality is so important. Nevertheless, she determines to live life on her own terms and the struggle to do so, and to find a resolution within herself, unfolds as gripping emotional drama.

‘Do you think,’ she cries to Mr Rochester, ‘because I am poor, plain and little, that I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong – I have as much soul as you – and full as much heart.’

Complete with Gothic frills, brooding landscapes and high drama, leavened with intelligence and psychological acuity, Jane Eyre is a love story which contains one of the great cries for equality in literature. Irrespective of gender or position, Jane asserts the importance of every individual. Once read, it is impossible to forget.

Thank you, Elizabeth for choosing this title.

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To see our previous Books of the Month, click here. 


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