Jane Eyre and I — a Love Affair for Life
By Jill Fuller | On April 19, 2013 | Updated September 13, 2022 | Comments (6)
I was eleven. My sixth-grade class was participating in a reading challenge, recording all of the books we read on a giant chart so that we could see how many we finished by the end of the year.
For some reason, I took the challenge quite literally and really strove to challenge myself. I still don’t know why I got it into my head to find the biggest, thickest books on the school bookshelf with the biggest, longest words.
It’s not like I still didn’t enjoy the Babysitters Club series or Ella Enchanted. But while I don’t remember the inspiration that drove me to check out Great Expectations, or Dr. Doolittle, or Wuthering Heights, I did.
Jane Eyre: Rediscovering a classic
My little head did not understand every word or plot point or character development, but it did take in enough to realize that there was so much to discover beyond the books I had read before.
None of the three books I mentioned above became favorites. In fact, I have never yet reread them. But one classic stuck. And her name is Jane Eyre.
About a year ago, I revisited my old grade school’s library and found the copy I first read, sitting there still on the shelf. Small in size, the words are printed tight together on browning pages. The cover is white with a blue border; a drawing of a woman in period dress stands in the foreground, while behind her is a man on a horse.
I am an avid collector of copies of Charlotte Brontë‘s Jane Eyre and my bookshelf has a beautiful assortment, ranging in size and color, publication dates stretching from the late 19th century to the present.
Yet this is the copy I would love to have over all others. It is my original, the one where I first discovered Jane and Thornfield Hall and Mr. Rochester. In that copy, I found my favorite place, the book that spoke to me above all others, even at a young age.
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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: A late 19th-century analysis
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A first discovery of a timeless book
I know others have checked it out after me, but the memory of my first discovery must still be nestled somewhere in those pages, held there indeterminately. I held the little tome in my hand, showing it to my husband who (bless his heart) has always appreciated and understood this love affair of mine. It felt so right, as if I was reliving a memory and found everything as I had left it, waiting still for me.
Looking back, I can’t remember what prompted my small self to notice the book or grab it from the shelf but I know that I fell in love instantly.
Inexplicably, at the age of eleven, something in my soul recognized a piece of itself, kept within a book cover, hidden on a shelf. And whenever I pull a copy from my shelf and start reading again, the anticipation and excitement that follows is the same as it was even then.
Jane Eyre as a constant friend
Twelve years later, I view Jane Eyre as a friend, a home, a place familiar and welcoming, yet also a place where I never cease to discover something new with each visit. Our love affair is still going strong.
Contributed by Jill Fuller. You can follow Jill on Instagram @jill.full