Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book 83: First Impressions.

I really think there is some value in reading an author's works in the order in which they were published. For present-day, living authors, we eagerly await their newest titles and read them as they are published. Of course we read things from the middle, but I always find it fascinating to see how writers grow as they mature and perfect their craft. A perfect example of this is J.K. Rowling. The first couple of Harry Potter novels seem very youthful and fun. Granted, the subject matter wasn't as dark as it gets in the later novels, but you can also see a sense of growth as she continues Harry's story.

So when I read an author "out of order," it sometimes leaves me wondering if I should grow in knowledge about that author through their work. When I made the decision last fall to read Villette over Jane Eyre, I did it mainly because I was worried Jane Eyre wouldn't live up to all the hype. I wanted another experience with Charlotte Bronte to get me into her writing. And I was told, at the time, that the two novels are different in scope and style.

And my first impressions of Jane Eyre?

Charlotte Bronte was a different person when she wrote this novel. There is a sense and hope in life that wasn't always clear in Villette. And from the little I know about her life, she went through some major life experiences between the publications of these two novels. Where Lucy Snowe hid information from the reader, kept secrets, and seemed distant, Jane Eyre is rather...strong in her opinions and thoughts. I have a firm grasp of who she is from the beginning. I sense that she also has a strong handle on who she is and what she wants to accomplish. Unlike Lucy Snowe, she has not let the circumstances of her life completely take over her identity. Jane is still optimistic in so many ways, even with the grimness of her situation. Lucy just seems wistful throughout her narration.

But I am loving younger Charlotte just as much as older Charlotte. There is something insanely refreshing about the character of Jane Eyre. She is bright, ambitious, and seems to have a strong sense of identity. I am through the portion where Jane is at Lowood and she is about to embark on her journey to her new situation as a governess. But during these opening scenes, I can see that Jane is one of those people who does not let their misfortune in life dictate who they are. That is an admirable trait, and I love that in characters.

And I am not sure what I was expecting from this novel, seeing as I knew nothing about the plot when I began, but I don't know if this was it. I know there will be a love connection (with that Rochester fellow when he shows up), but he is no where to be found just yet. I am anxious to see what kind of man is a match for Jane.

In any case, I am looking forward to my adventure with young Charlotte Bronte. I am already half in love with the novel, the writing, and the ability Charlotte has to create a perfectly likable character, who is strong and independent. We will just have to see if that feeling continues as I move forward.


  1. I'm glad you like it! I am one of the few who doesn't, but perhaps I'll give it another try one of these years.

  2. Interesting... Thanks for sharing. That cover is so pretty.

  3. There's a great scene in the new movie (that I don't remember from the book, but could've missed it), where Rochester asks Jane what her story is, 'cause governesses always have some tragic tale, and she's just so matter of fact about pity, no boo-hoos, no my childhood sucked. She just says she was taken in by her aunt and sent away to school. I think that's my favorite scene from the movie, because it really shows her character.

  4. I love that scene softdrink points out. (OI've not seen the movie, but I can picture it. So mellow, so Jane Eyre.)

    What a novel. It will always be a favorite.

    (I love reading 'out of order.' Part of me wishes I'd read Villette first.)

    I treasure both novels. Jane Eyre for being my first classic, and Villette for speaking so deeply.

    Ah, Allie. You make me remember why I love literature.

  5. I really enjoyed 'Jane Eyre' as well - now I really want to read 'Villete' to see the maturity of Charlotte, who I felt was very mature, though care-free in her writing of 'Jane Eyre'. I feel that she is the antithesis of Jane Austen - and thank heavens for that.

    My review here:

  6. Interesting thoughts on JK Rowling, I thought the books got harder to read because there was obviously less editing. But the kids certainly do grow up through the series. I like the series, don't get me wrong, but I found the first ones to have much better writing.

    given my love for JANE EYRE, now I'm worried about Villette. Not sure I will like the less-hopeful...

  7. You definitely have a point about the growth of an author - and I think Rowling is a perfect example because the progress is so exaggerated.

    Jane is a very unique character which, to me, is the best part of the book.

  8. Interesting take on author's growth throughout her works. I have to agree with you. You can definitely see a difference between this one and her other books. This idea could also apply to contemporary authors today like King, among many others.

    I'm happy you are liking Jane Eyre as well. This is my favorite classic, ever, hands down! So i always get excited when I hear somebody is falling in love with it like I did. Haha