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Thursday, April 21, 2011


When I first read Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre in my junior year of high school, I thought it was the most passionate book I’d ever read. And when I considered that it had been written 140 years ago when women were discouraged from expressing even their tamest emotions, let alone their most ardent passions, it made Brontë’s achievement all the more stunning. From a 21st century perspective, there are definitely some thorny little problems such as the mad wife in the attic and perhaps even the poignant yet slightly anti-feminist ending; however, the romance between the shy yet resolute Jane and her gruff, wounded Rochester is so intimate and real that it has stood the test of time. No matter how often I read the novel, the slow burn of feelings between Jane and Rochester never fails to move me. Each time, I sit with Jane in the firelight, studying Rochester’s rugged face until I grow to love it. And each time, I listen--rapt with longing--as Jane and Rochester’s relationship grows from a tentative friendship simmering with tension to a deep and abiding love.
It is this restrained but fiery romance that probably accounts for Jane Eyre’s timeless appeal and its recent revival in modern literature and pop culture. In 2010, April Lindner’s Jane retold the classic love story with Jane as a modern-day nanny for her rock star Rochester. Sherri Browning Erwin’s campy Jane Slayre transformed Jane into a feisty orphan pitted against zombies, vampires, and one pissed off werewolf. This spring also saw the release of Cary Fukunaga’s moody and lush adaptation of Jane Eyre for the big screen (although the 2006 BBC version still holds my heart). And this time next year, I'll throw my hat into the ring with my first young adult novel, A Breath of Eyre.

In honor of Charlotte Brontë’s birthday and the genius that is Jane Eyre, here is one of my favorite passages from the novel:

“My master's colorless, olive face, square, massive brow, broad and jetty eyebrows, deep eyes, strong features, firm, grim mouth,--all energy, decision, will,--were not beautiful, according to rule; but they were more than beautiful to me: they were full of an interest, an influence that quite mastered me,--that took my feelings from my own power and fettered them in his. I had not intended to love him: the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me."

Sigh, and swoon… 


Unknown said...

Great post and a wonderful tribute to Charlotte Bronte. I love the Bronte sister's writing but I think Charlotte is my favorite. I'm embarassed to admit I didn't relize it was her birthday,
Love the passage you quoted, it's fantastic. No wonder every few years a new film version is made! Hopefully, the most recent will encourage more people to read the book!

~ Amy

Heather Anastasiu said...

Oh I LOVE this post, and love hearing about your slow and long love affair with the novel and all it's adaptations!! Yep, the 2006 one still has my heart too, mainly b/c of Toby Stephens, but in the new movie adaptation I liked that Mia Waikowski seemed to have a vultnerability and passion that shone through more than BBC Jane. But yeah, it's a story with such rich emotional possibilities, I can't wait for readers to get to read your take on it!!!!

Eve Marie Mont said...

Thanks, Amy! Yes, I suppose Jane Eyre has never really lost momentum. I'm so happy others love this book as much as I do!

And Heather, yes--Toby Stephens is Rochester! Sort of how Colin Firth will always be Darcy for me. But I do agree, Mia was lovely. Thanks for reading my lonely blog!

Andrea Coulter said...

LOVE Jane Eyre. Have you read Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair? He has some literary fun with it :)

I'm afraid to watch the new Jane Eyre movie because I heard it underwhelmed, but I'll likely give it a try soon anyway!

Leanna Renee Hieber said...

lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove Jane Eyre! My hero in my Strangely Beautiful series is very Rochester-inspired. He had such an impact on me... still does! Cheers and great tribute post!

Eve Marie Mont said...

Okay, Leanna, now that I know your series was Rochester-inspired, I want to read it even more!

Kate Gorman said...

I'll never forget the first time I read Jane Eyre. I was 11 years old and I think it was autumn 2000. We were going away and I got very bored in the car, (still do!) without a book so my mum gave me the paperback copy of Jane Eyre she owned at the time and placed it on my lap. From the first page I loved it! It grabbed my attention. My mum often passes me one of my copies when I'm upset or ill. I often forget my worries when I read it. When I can't sleep I read it, I once read parts of it at 5:00am! It sounds crazy I know! I read it many times a year.

Edward Fairfax Rochester my favourite hero in fiction.

I now own two hardback copies of Jane Eyre, one is an Collector's Library Edition and the other is the one my auntie gave to me. The paperback copy we owned in 2000, fell apart. I have Jane Eyre on audio disc, again given to me by my aunt & uncle for my 21st. I was delighted to receive them! I also own a Jane Eyre Penguin Book cup, Jane Eyre 2006 (my favourite adaptation!) on DVD. Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson ARE Jane Eyre and Edward Fairfax Rochester! They are PERFECT!

People have often called me obsessed with Jane Eyre which upsets or have asked me, "Why do you love the novel so much?" The answer is simple. It is because it's a beautiful love story and I love all the characters, especially Jane and Edward Fairfax Rochester. Jane is a poor, plain and unloved orphan who overcomes great difficulties but triumphs in the end by marrying the love of her life. Every time I read Jane Eyre, I always discover something new within the story. I don't care if I am obsessed with it, "what's wrong with loving a novel anyway?"

I love your blog and I can't wait to read your book!

Kate, England

Eve Marie Mont said...

Oh, Kate, I love meeting other Jane Eyre fans! And I know exactly what you mean--there is something so comforting but also new about the story every time I read it. And Rochester is my all-time favorite literary hero; I love him even more than Darcy. I'm so glad you're excited to read my take on the story. It's scary that people love the original so much; I hope I do it justice but also create something new to stand on its own. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!

Kate Gorman said...

Hi Eve,
It's lovely to meet you too! I love meeting other Jane Eyre fans as well, I don't know many. I am twenty two years old and have always loved to read classic novels. What I love so much about your book is that your main character goes into Jane Eyre! That makes me feel so excited because ever since I was eleven, I have always wanted to disappear into my favourite novel and be swept off my feet by Edward Fairfax Rochester! It's a wonderful fantasy! I remember not being keen on Rochester because of the way he deceives Jane but as I got older I understood Rochester more and more and fell head over heels in love with him. In September 2000 I started high school and I was bullied which made me very unhappy so Jane became my best friend and as I thought myself plain I could easily understand what Jane meant when she wishes she were pretty.

Jane Eyre has also distracted me from my disability and has made me believe that a man will love me for who I am despite my disability like Jane love Rochester even though he is blind. It also taught me to resist temptation and I was amazed at how strong Jane was in leaving Rochester even though she loved him so much, I remember thinking how hard that must have been.

One of the reasons I love Jane Eyre so much is because Jane stands up for herself and overcomes ever obstacle that people put in her path; I also love her morals too and I also like the fact that she is plain but is such a strong heroine. I love the language in this novel and think it is beautifully written.

Another reason why I love it is because there is a brooding, dark, blunt, rude but a very passionate and gorgeous hero in the novel (what woman doesn't like one of those?!) which is Mr. Rochester who loves Jane for who she is, is very kind to her and treats her like an equal, I know that he has his faults but I can't help but fall for him! I also find him a very sympathetic character because he has a lot of very unfair things to deal with in his life.

My favourite parts of the novel are:
When Jane and Edward first meet
The first conversation they have
After Jane saves Edward from the fire
The conversation they have when Jane leaves the drawing-room
When Jane finds out Edward is the gypsy
When Jane asks Edward's permission to leave Thornfield Hall
When Jane returns to Thornfield Hall
The proposal! (This part is so passionate and romantic!)
When Edward is explaining everything to Jane after their interrupted marriage and is trying to convince her to stay with him (I nearly cry when I read that part!)
The reunion of Jane and Edward

Every time I read Jane Eyre nowadays I still feel like Jane is my friend telling me everything about herself, I love to read it in bed where I can get cozy and fall in love with the novel and Mr. Rochester all over again! I also have Jane Eyre on audio disc as well it's lovely to listen to when I am unwell or the weather is bad.

Jane Eyre is my favourite novel and it is a pleasure to talk about it.

Kate, Leeds, England.

Eve Marie Mont said...

Kate, please send me your email address if you ever wish to talk more more about Jane Eyre!