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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 Many of the ideas and values of the time are outdated and even offensive today.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

Ratings

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?

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