“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day…” Thus begins my favorite book of all time, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
I read Jane Eyre for the first time when I was 13 or 14, and was immediately drawn into the world of Lowood School, Thornfield, and the surrounding countryside. There was something about the story of this intelligent, passionate, determined young woman that immediately resonated with me in the early 1970s and still does today. There was romance, a slightly gothic backstory, adventure, and, in the end, love prevailed.
But it wasn’t just Jane that intrigued me. It was the real-life story of the Brontes — 3 sisters, brother, aunt, and father — and their life in Haworth that I’ve returned to again and again throughout my life. In fact just this week I started the new book written for young people, The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne by Catherine Reef, and I’m swept right back to that place and those people I first learned of as a teenager.
I’ve had the opportunity to see several exhibits of Bronte memorabilia and ephemera over the past few years. Viewing the actual manuscript for Jane Eyre in the British Library brought me to tears. The miniature books written and illustrated by Charlotte, Anne, Emily, and Branwell (seen in an exhibit at the Morgan Library in New York City last Christmas) are exquisite treasures.
Jane tells Mr. Rochester “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
And in the end, Jane’s independent will prevails and so does love.
As I mentioned in my last post, Dan and I got married in October, and what would pop into my mind as I readied myself for our simple outdoor ceremony? Well, Jane Eyre, of course. “Reader, I married him.”
And what will the future hold? The possibilities are endless.