Jane Eyre was orphaned and left in the care of her uncle and his wife as an infant. When her uncle died, life change dramatically for Jane as her aunt resented her existence and ultimately sent her away to boarding school when she was ten years old. This is her story, how she grew to want more from her life than the narrow confines available to her during the Victorian era and her rise from her circumstances.
I started this story many years ago, was interrupted and couldn’t get back to it. My book club selected it for discussion and I took the opportunity to get it on audio. I’d heard so much about Mr. Rochester and Jane, all fragmented, I wasn’t certain if this was supposed to be an epic romance or something else. I’m choosing the “something else” as it’s difficult for me to think of their relationship in those terms but it definitely was an epic and complicated relationship.
What I loved about Jane was her pragmatism and thirst for something more. Her coping skills were borne from her years of separation from family and anyone who cared about her well being. While I didn’t always agree with her decisions, I loved her reasoning. She wasn’t a complicated woman but she was a woman of substance, having her own sense of a moral code that guided her life and a strong sense of self. I didn’t always like Edward Rochester but by the end, I felt I understood him better and knew that he truly cared for Jane, more unselfishly than I first believed. It’s my understanding that Brontë infused elements of her own life into this story, probably some real and other parts aspirational. The result is a compelling story that kept me engaged and I enjoyed it.
Regarding the audiobook…I’m glad I chose this format but I was unhappy with the narrator. She sounded much too old for the character and I was highly underwhelmed by her performance. I just chose the wrong edition. I highly recommend the one narrated by Thandie Newton, which is absolutely outstanding and I downloaded it for the last part of the book. She made me want to start all over again. I’ve included that sample below as I don’t recommend the one narrated by Wanda McCaddon. There are many other audio editions out there and you should sample them before final selection.
There’s a reason this book is considered a classic and I’m thrilled I read it. So should you.
- First Published Release Date: October 16, 1847
- Narrator: Wanda McCaddon
- Audio Length: 18 hours
- Publisher: Tantor Audio
(The one I wish I’d listened to…)