Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Charlotte Brontë’s impassioned novel is the love story of Jane Eyre, a plain yet spirited governess, and her employer, the arrogant, brooding Mr. Rochester. Published in 1847 under the pseudonym Currer Bell, the book heralded a new kind of heroine – on whose virtuous integrity, deep intellect, and tireless perseverance broke through class barriers to win equal stature with the man she loved. Hailed by William Makepeace Thackeray as “the masterwork of a great genius” Jane Eyre is still regarded, over a century later, as one of the finest novels in English literature.

Tribeca Books (November 24, 2015)


Book Club Ideas

Decorations

Several days after I finished reading Jane Eyre, the 1944 film version starring Orson Welles as Mr. Rochester and Joan Fontaine as Jane was on one of the TV movie channels. I was so excited. It had been years since I had seen this film but I remember being completely mesmerized by Orson Welles’ portrayal of Rochester. After seeing the film again, I can say that my feelings haven’t changed a whit in regards to Mr. Welles’ performance! Brilliant! But, I was disappointed in Joan Fontaine as the grown Jane.

There have been quite a few movie adaptations of Jane Eyre and posters from the 1944 movie are great for a fun book club party decorating touch. The posters below are of Rochester (I love the look on Orson Welles’ face) and Jane on their ill-fated wedding day, and of Margaret O’Brien as Rochester’s little French ward Adele.

More Jane Eyre movie posters can be found at Amazon.com.

Attire

Are these not the absolute best tees to wear to a Jane Eyre book club party?

Music

The motion picture soundtrack of the 2011 movie Jane Eyre, with beautiful classical strings, some piano and woodwinds, recreates the haunting qualities of the Yorkshire moors evoked by Charlotte Brontë in her classic novel.As of this post’s publication, I still haven’t made into the big city to see this film version of Jane Eyre, but from what I’ve seen and what I’ve read it appears to be very good!

Book Club Menu

Brontë Country is in North of England in the South Pennine hills area of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire. I stayed close to the region for my book club menu.North England dessert cheeses, such as Wensleydale with cranberries (from North Yorkshire) and White Silton (produced in the Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire) with with blueberries and with lemon zest.Creamy Smoked Haddock Soup is a true comfort food. A bit of cayenne makes this soup extra tasty.Yorkshire Pudding Pop-ups are not the “pudding” we Americans are accustomed to having as a creamy dessert.I am not strong enough to stop at one serving of Sticky Toffee Pudding with Toffee Sauce.

Book Club Resources

Ratings and Reviews

Ratings at the time this post was published

Goodreads: 4.09 stars (1,146,092 reviews)
Amazon: 4.3 stars (5,459 ratings)
LibraryThing: 4.23 stars (10,131 ratings)
My Rating: 4.5 stars A fascinating semi-autobiographical novel. Jane kept to her true self! Give this book to your daughter to read.

“So we open Jane Eyre….The writer has us by the hand, forces us along her road, makes us see what she sees, never leaves us for a moment or allows us to forget her. At the end we are steeped through and through with the genius, the vehemence, the indignation of Charlotte Bronte….It is the red and fitful glow of the heart’s fire which illuminates her page.” — Virginia Woolf

“This is not merely a work of great promise; it is one of absolute performance. It is one of the most powerful domestic romances which have been published for many years. It has little or nothing of the old conventional stamp upon it … but it is full of youthful vigour, of freshness and originality, of nervous diction and concentrated interest. The incidents are sometimes melo-dramatic, and, it might be added, improbable; but these incidents, though striking, are subordinate to the main purpose of the piece, which is a tale of passion, not of intensity which is most sublime. It is a book to make the pulses gallop and the heart beat, and to fill the eyes with tears.” — Atlas, 1847

“I go back to [Jane Eyre] so often and it was one of the first books that made me think, ‘This is me, in some deep way.” — Suzanne Vega

Discussion

The Author

Charlotte Brontë was born in 1816. Her mother died when her six children were young, and older sisters Maria and Elizabeth died several years later. Charlotte and her brother Branwell and remaining sisters, Emily and Anne, were raised by their cold father, a clergyman, in secluded Haworth, Yorkshire. The motherless Brontë children roamed the lonely moors devising their own fantasy world. They were voracious readers and prolific writers.

Charlotte Brontë

The painting below is by Branwell Brontë. He initially was included in the painting, but later removed himself. His form can still be seen in the pillar between Emily and Charlotte.

The Brontë Sisters: Anne, Emily, and Charlotte

Branwell and Emily died in 1848, and Anne in 1849. Charlotte died in 1855 after happily married for barely a year.

Favorite Quotes

“Do you think I am an automaton? ­ a machine without feelings?…Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong — I have as much soul as you, — and full as much heart…I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh; — it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal, — as we are.”

“It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.”

There are so many great quotes and passages in this novel. Be sure to tell your guests to pick out some of their favorite passages and what about their favorites moved them.

Purchase Jane Eyre at your favorite bookseller

Two little side notes on the 1944 film: Did you know that Peggy Ann Garner, who played Jane Eyre as a child, went on to win an Academy Award the following year for her role in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? And that the incomparable Elizabeth Taylor, played Helen Burns uncredited?