Jane Eyre and I — a Love Affair for Life

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

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 BrontëJane 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 Bronte

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

6 Responses to “Jane Eyre and I — a Love Affair for Life”

  1. I read all of Thomas Hardy’s novels and wanted more. I found the Bronte Sisters – Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. I loved those novels. I went on to read all of L M Montgomery’s novels and am currently reading those of Daphne Du Maurier. Jane Eyre will always be my favorite character from literature followed by Batsheba Everdene from Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. And PBS did a remarkable job with the film – To Walk Invisible – the Bronte Sisters. It is highly recommended.

    • Thank you for this lovely comment, Ted. If you love the Brontës, you can continue with Charlotte’s Villette and Shirley; I think Anne’s Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a must-read as an early feminist novel (the 4-part mini-series is pretty good, though it changes a few salient details). I’m obsessed with To Walk Invisible! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it. I’ve read Montgomery’s Anne books and the Emily of New Moon series (the latter quite recently). Daphne du Maurier is brilliant. Rebecca will always be one of my all-time favorites (readers, do not under any circumstances watch the recent Netflix adaptation!), followed by My Cousin Rachel and The Scapegoat. It has been decades since I read Hardy — definitely time to revisit!

  2. Jane Eyre addict myself. Just finished a reread. You might be interested in Charlotte Bronte A Life by Claire Harman. I found it really took me into Charlotte’s world and made me rate her achievement even more highly if that were possible.

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