Since Jane Eyre was published in 1847, I’m going to do this review a little different from my regular reviews. I’m going to assume that most people who are reading this blog post have heard of this book, if not read it, so I’m going to skip over the part where I post the book details and the good reads summary. That being said, there are spoilers, but the book is 170 years old, so I think I passed the mark of which it’s okay to talk about a book with spoilers included.
I have been listening to this book for about a month. It’s a little over 19 hours long and perfect for my to and from work traveling. I am new to audiobooks, so this was my first novel of this kind, where the book was “performed” instead of simply read. I mostly listen to historical biographies and memoirs. I’ve listened to the first Welcome to Night Vale novel, but that wasn’t exactly “performed” the way this one was.
To be perfectly honestly, I had never read any of the classic books. I have a very hard time reading Victorian era writing. It’s sometimes hard for me to follow, so I figured why not have it read to me? This was a perfect decision. Without the audio, I wouldn’t have finished the book.
I did enjoy this book, which I need to say before I say other things about it which make it sound like I didn’t enjoy it. I mean, it doesn’t have a swoon-worthy romance, in my opinion, but an understandable one. I can see what Jane would see in Rochester, but he’s not my type, which for me, is a large part of my categorizing swoon-worthiness. I understand why there are many people that love this novel. I am, however on the like side.
There is something about audiobooks that make books like these easier to understand, although there was a part when I was confused about what was happening, so I googled it and the character named was spelled very differently than I imagined it was. So I assumed it was a different character then went back and listened to the chapter over because I couldn’t remember meeting this new character only to discover that nope, I was right her cousin is asking her to marry him.
Why? Why is the woman’s first cousin so instant that she marry him? Why is everything I’ve read about this book taking that as a viable option of life for Jane? Why are so many people in her live telling her to marry her cousin? Don’t marry your cousin, Jane. That part is so weird. If anyone can explain this to me, I will be so thankful. Was it a thing that happened in the 1740’s? I know that it happened a lot in royal families, but Jane Eyre is not from a royal or even a very well off family. Also, why is St. John pronounced like that? *shakes fist at Victorian England*
I did enjoy it, but this book is moderately ridiculous, why are there so many references to ghosts and vampires? Ghosts are not important to the story? Why didn’t Mr. Rochester smoother Bertha with a pillow in her sleep? That’s what I would have done. Locking her in a room for 11 years seems excessive, if I were locked in a room for 11 years, I would attempt to burn down the house I was a prisoner in multiple times as well. Murdering her or sending her to an asylum would have prevented the weird cousin marriage situation. The editor in my wants to read line edit it and send it back to Ms. Bronte for fixes. Large passages highlighted and sent back with a big question mark next to them. I’m assuming my confusion about these themes is just my unfamiliarity with the genre, but still, weird.
What I really want to discuss in this post is Thandie Newton’s reading. I mentioned in a post before that finding the exact right voice to read a book in my head or with an audiobook is incredibly important. Thandie Newton has the perfect accent for this book, and the voices she does, so great. It was so easy to follow with her voices; to tell who was speaking without the dialogue tag. I was a big fan of her Mrs. Fairfax voice and her Mr. Rochester voice. The voices add so much to the narrative.
Overall, I would give the book itself 3.5 stars for the narrative, but Thandie Newton’s performance kicks it up to a 4.5-star story. If you like the classics but have a hard time reading the flowery langue, I recommend her as a narrator. (Honestly, I recommend audiobooks as a whole if you have an issue with this kind of writing.)
I am looking forward to listening to more classic literature from audible soon. A friend of mine told me to listen to Wuthering Heights, so that is probably going to be my next buy in Audible when I get my monthly credit.
Until next time Internet,