Skip to main content

REVIEW: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Reader, this book was published in 1847. Back then, writers liked to describe every bird and leaf and brooklet. Dialogue often consisted of elaborate monologues. Many of the ideas and values of the time are outdated and even offensive today. Still, I couldn’t help but love it. I read an advanced copy, beautifully illustrated by Marjolein Bastin. This would be the perfect edition to own, with gorgeous watercolor paintings that Jane herself would aspire to create. What satisfied me about Jane Eyre was her spirit and character – she was unapologetically herself. She reminded me a little bit of Anne Shirley (except that Anne was more “apologetically” herself.) Jane just wants to be accepted for who she is, but she is unloved for most of her early life. The story follows Jane Eyre through several stages. Her childhood as an orphan living with cruel relatives is heartbreaking. She endures hardship at a poorly run boarding school. She is comfortable, but unfulfilled as a governess at Thor


My rating will be out of five, to be consistent with Goodreads. There are certain things I look for when I rate a book:

Writing style: Is the writing easy and readable or awkward and confusing? Is it original and meaningful or contrived and redundant? Does it have a distinctive, engaging tone and voice or is it flat and/or clichéd.

Pacing: I tend to like short chapters so I can find more time to read a few pages throughout the day. I like to finish a chapter in one sitting. However, I have also enjoyed books without any chapters. Is the chapter length appropriate? Is there enough tension to keep me turning the page? Is it suspenseful; are there secrets, scares, and surprises?  What is the objective of the plot and do the characters have a stake in the outcome? Do the characters have conflict and setbacks with reflection in between?

Plot: How strong is the opening? How many pages until I am invested in the outcome? I have to be honest, if it takes more than 50 pages, I likely won’t finish the book. Are the stakes for the characters authentic or fabricated, and do I care if they succeed? Do the actions of the characters make sense based on their development? Is there too much backstory, or does it balance the main plot? Is there a satisfying conclusion? Are there any unresolved issues?

Setting: Do I feel immersed in time and place, and does it enhance the story? Is the description meaningful and vivid?

Character: What is the point of view and does it suit the story? Are the characters distinctive and well-developed or lacking in depth? Are their motivations manufactured or believable? Is the dialogue effective? Does it serve a purpose in developing the characters or is it used to dump story information on the reader?

Bonus category: What are my personal connections to the story? Does this add or detract from my enjoyment of the book?


Popular posts from this blog

REVIEW: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

How fun it is to revisit favorite books. I have never been one for re-reading (there are so many good books to read) but writing these reviews has given me the desire to do just that. I guess favorites are favorites for a reason. “Now the circus is open. Now you may enter.” The mysterious circus arrives without warning and takes place only at night. The reader is transported around the world as dark secrets about the circus are revealed and the characters search for a way out of a deadly game. The pace is a slow burn, and the real magic of this book for me exists in connecting the pieces to create a strange and interesting world. There is a love story (actually, more than one) but don’t go into this book expecting romance to be the main theme. Sections of this book are written in second person, which created an intimacy and drew me in immediately. Reading these chapters, I felt as though I were being let in on a secret. This is a book that recalls the won

REVIEW: Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

A senseless tragedy takes the lives of June’s entire family. Bill Clegg writes, in vivid detail, how several people caught in the aftermath are affected by the disaster. I love books with alternating points of view if they are done well. This book has eleven point-of-view characters. Some are told in first person and some are in third person. This could have resulted in a confusing mess, but instead it shaped a complex, emotionally compelling story.  "At first he thinks his house is on fire, but when he leans out and looks back, he can see that the smoke is coming from beyond the trees on the other side of the property. Then he smells it—the oily stench of a fire burning more than just wood. He can taste it, too, and as he inhales, it mingles with the pot smoke still on his tongue and in his throat. The birds get louder. Squawking, yelling what sound like words.  Go! You! Go!  he thinks he hears, but knows it’s impossible. He blinks his eyes open and shut, attempts to process

REVIEW: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This is Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel. It is a completely riveting, heartbreaking work of fiction about the history of slave trade that begins with Fante folklore and ends in present day America. Effia the Beauty was born under a curse in a village in eighteenth century Ghana. British soldiers come from the coast to establish trade and marry women from neighboring villages. Soon enough, Effia’s own village forms an alliance to sell slaves to the British. In the bargaining, Effia marries a British soldier and moves to the castle. Upon arrival, Effia discovers a dungeon under the ground. "Then, carried up with the breeze, came a faint crying sound. So faint, Effia thought she was imagining it until she lowered herself down, rested her ear against the grate. “James, are there people down there? She asked." One of the slaves is a woman That Effia’s own brother helped capture. She is shipped across the ocean in appalling conditions. With her, she carries a secret th