Posts Tagged ‘the brontes’
With the completion of Agnes Grey I can now say that I have read a novel apiece by each of the Bronte sisters. Hurrah! I didn’t really know what to expect going into an Anne Bronte novel, though this Hark! A Vagrant Cartoon that I was directed to by Jenny of Shelf Love during my read through of Jane Eyre last year caused me to suspect she might be my favorite sister of the three. I mean, I like neither assholes nor alcoholic dickbags for my male heroes in fiction… What can I say? I’ve never been one of those girls who goes for the brooding, badboy. It’s just never been my shtick.
Turns out, it’s not Anne Bronte’s thing either. If there’s such a thing as a proper romance (or a romance of manners), then that’s exactly what Agnes Grey is. In many ways it was like Jane Eyre, but it was far less epic and not at all gothic. Essentially, if you were one of those people who when reading Sense and Sensibility just wanted more of Elinor and Edward and swooned at their polite and reserved interactions that masked their deeper passions, then Agnes Grey is the novel for you.
How’s that for turnaround time? After taking about two weeks to read through the first two-thirds of the book, I positively raced through the last portion of this novel. And what can I say: I LOVED it. This may not have been the most important book I’ve read this year, nor perhaps even the most impressive, but it was fun to read from beginning to end and it ultimately captured my heart quite deftly. I cannot say for certain that I did indeed read this book when I was younger, but I am definitely glad that I read it again now as in an odd way it reminded me of how I used to read when I was younger – purely for pleasure and purely to be swept away by a magnificent story. I feel Jane Eyre definitely delivered on both those counts, as it was for me a whirlwind of emotion and a novel that really engrossed me. The writing was lovely and evocative, the characters strong and luminescent, and as the temperature slowly begins to drop outside, I can hardly think of a better book to curl up with!
This past week I’ve been slowly working my way through the second volume of Jane Eyre. Please don’t take my glacial progress as evidence that this second of three installments was difficult or the prototypical “middle child” of the book. I’ve really been enjoying it A LOT, but there’s no denying I’ve been reading it slowly. However, I can attribute this to two things:
1) I was away at a conference for three days this week, which considerably cut into my reading time. I got to read on planes, but other than that, I was inundated with science and group dinners the rest of the time, so Jane did languish a bit as a result
2) This is simply a book that I’ve been having fun reading and just haven’t felt the need to rush through. I’m enjoying the time I spend with the book, and as easy as it is to flip the pages, I feel I’m not doing so mindlessly but am instead really reveling in the time spent. I feel like I am reading for the sake of reading, rather than for the sake of finishing the book. Some people might not feel there is a distinction there, but for me there is! And hey, we’re slowly embracing the “Slow Food” movement, so why not the “Slow Read” movement?
Normally I don’t review or record my feelings about a book until I’ve done gone and finished the whole thing, although of course there are exceptions, such as with the 2666 read-along! As Jane Eyre is likewise a rather epic novel, and also conveniently broken into parts (or volumes, as I believe they are actually called), I figured it might be nice to switch things up and post my interim reflections as I finish each part. Also, this will mean you won’t have to wait three weeks (or however long it will take me to finish this sucker!) in radio silence. Really, it’s win-win, I think!
So, Jane Eyre is a book that I was pretty sure I had read when I was maybe 11 or 12 in Grade 7 or 8. It’s certainly one of those books about which I know the general plot, so it’s very hard for me to say whether in fact I have really read this book. On the one hand, I kind of know what happens in it in terms of the big moments and the various twists, but on the other hand, as I embarked upon Part 1, nothing about it seemed very familiar at all! I was surprised to find that the novel started with young Jane, as in my mind I thought the book only involved her trials and tribulations as a governess (when in fact it appears to be a fictional autobiography of sorts). Moreover, I was even more startled to find that young Jane was so feisty and spirited! For whatever reason, I had always thought Jane was puritanical and reserved, not the resilient young tornado who makes up the first half of this first volume. I found myself actually quite enamored by the young Jane, and while I don’t always see that same fierce spark in the older Jane, I do think she is quite a wonderful leading lady. I certainly am enjoying the feminist undertones that are emerging, though they do still feel quite nascent at this point in the novel.