HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Charlotte Brontë, 21 April
Last year the world celebrated the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth – there were talks, exhibitions, conferences, new books and dinners held to honour this important literary anniversary.
I first read Jane Eyre in an abridged edition which I found in the school library. My mother was so horrified that I’d read a shortened version, that she sat me down and began to read me the entire book. I was gripped from beginning to end, just like that very first reader of the novel at the publishing house, who stayed up reading all night in order to finish the book. I was in love with Mr Rochester, I admired Jane and her struggles, and I longed for a happy union at the end. The book has never lost its magic for me and I return to it regularly.
However, I also love Villette which I studied at university. It is an uneven novel, yet it has a strange power and Lucy Snowe battles against conditions that are even worse than Jane’s and comes through. She is one of the most unusual heroines in Victorian fiction. Shirley also has its power, especially in the merciless portrayal of the curates, but The Professor leaves me cold. Charlotte’s relationship with her sisters fascinates me – she was the ‘bossy’ one and yet without her, would any of their works have been published? What an amazing family those Brontës were. There is a new TV film out about the sisters, To Walk Invisible. I hope that comes to Australian TV soon.
Do you have a favourite Charlotte Brontë book? Please let me know in the comment area below.
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