Good evening ladies and gents!
Guess what, today we’re going highbrow. While I was away doing ALL THE THINGS, I made good progress with The Rory Gilmore Book Challenge (seems fitting considering the Gilmore Girls Revival). I’m really enjoying chronicling my progress with this because these books push me as a reader. Recently I picked up Jane Eyre and David Copperfield, and they both shot straight into my favourites list. While they’re very different stories, they both feel timeless and relevant to modern life. To put it in a non, 19th century way, they kick literary ass!
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Jane Eyre, oh where do I start with you? What a wonderful book. I make no secret of the fact that I love Gothic 19th century writing. It tickles all the right spots for me. It’s overdramatic and sweeps you down into it’s depths, it’s passionate and strong and willful. It’s emotive and tantalizing to the senses, full of descriptions of grand buildings, dark landscapes and mysterious characters with confusing motives.
So, in case you don’t know that much about Jane Eyre, the book centers around a young lady looking for employment. She finds it as a governess at Thornfield Hall. Her employer? The distinguished and arrogant Mr. Rochester. Despite their differences in class the two form and intellectual bond and fondness for each other that shouldn’t exist. But Jane soon senses a darkness at Thornfield. Strange things are heard at night, noises ricochet around the halls and accidents occur without explanation. Will this mystery destroy the closest thing Jane has ever had to happiness?
Having watched several different adaptions of Jane Eyre, I was worried about two things when it came to the novel – one, that it wouldn’t live up to my high expectations and two, that it wouldn’t be as compelling because I already knew what was behind the mystery at Thornfield. I needn’t have worried, Charlotte’s storytelling was 1st class and I found myself sucked in quickly as if I had never experienced the story before.
Jane was such a complex character. She has an abusive and loveless start to life which has made her personality reserved and cold but has also developed her sense of independence because nothing has been handed to her. Despite her hardships, she is brave, smart and has managed to find work for herself. She’s strong in the face of adversity and won’t falter when it comes to her principles, refusing to bend of break even when doing so would give her a lot of happiness. Her refusal to demean herself for the man she loved was both agonizing and the most awe-inspiring thing I have ever read. Man, I would love to go to a feminist lecture on this book. Jane, you’re my new icon.
The main difference I found between the book and its adaptations to the screen, was that Mr. Rochester was kind of a douchebag. Like, seriously. On screen, he was so drool worthy but in the novel, I found him arrogant, insensitive and invasive of people personal boundaries. He was fascinating due to his unique personality and the mysteries surrounding him, but as a love interest he left a lot to be desired and I was much more interested in how his presence in Jane’s life gave her opportunities to grow as a character. I found this very interesting – I think it just shows how when we have a pleasant visual, our brains can be tricked into forgiving a person’s disturbing behaviour.
Overall, I loved this book, but it did lose one star towards the end because I didn’t enjoy the section where Jane went to go and live with a clergyman. It dragged a lot but was still somewhat interesting in terms of Jane’s character development and her refusal to submit to male dominance. All in all, Jane Eyre gets a big thumbs up, and I would definitely recommend this as an entry level classic because the language isn’t as tough as some and it quickly sweeps you into the story!
Writing Style: 5/5 // Originality: 5/5 // Entertainment: 4/5 // Character Development: 5/5 //Would I recommend this book? Yes!
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Well, I have successfully navigated my way through my 4th Dickens novel, and it only took me 6 weeks! (Phew). At 1000 pages, this was also my biggest Dickens novel to date (and it felt like it). It was extremely intimidating, but also so so rewarding.
So the plot of David Copperfield? It’s rather simple really. It follows one individual through the ups and downs of his life. Like most Dickens characters, Copperfield gets off to a traumatic start in life full of hardship. His father died before he was born and his mother remarries a controlling slave driver who makes his mother slowly waste away. Copperfield soon finds himself unwanted and begins bouncing from one place to another being swept up in life’s current – that varies from borderline child slavery to hardcore boarding houses and homelessness, until, eventually, he seeks out his Aunt, who takes him in. But that is far from the end of the story.
David Copperfield is said to be Dickens favourite novel, it is also said in some respects to mirror his own life. This reason alone makes it an interesting read. However, the best thing about this book is that it’s the ultimate character study. Getting to follow one individual for such a long period means you get to know absolutely everything about them. What a true storytelling achievement! I laughed with Copperfield, I cried, I screamed at the unfairness of the word. I watched him fall in love, experience hardship, disillusionment, anger, joy. I saw him struggle with classism and treacherous villains, and I saw him eventually develop wisdom and understanding that love is not always based on beauty but on the commonalities between two people. This book was a rollercoaster of emotions and it was so satisfying.
One of the best parts of Dickens writing is all the fun caricatures he creates. Copperfield comes across so many different quirky people on his journey. There’s the slimy Uriah who is so very ‘umble, dear old Peggotty the loyal housekeeper, the soulless Mr. Murdstone, Betsy and her fear of donkeys on the green, and the most memorable of all the lovely and ever hopeful Mr. Micawber and his many financial ventures that go oh so very wrong.
Very similar to Jane Eyre, this novel almost made it to the five star mark. However, due to its length sections did become arduous and my enthusiasm waned especially around the midway mark. Other sections were also overly verbose (I think Dickens is probably the definition of verbose, even if his writing is awesome!). Luckily, the story did pick up again later for a spiffing ending if I do say so myself.
Overall, a great story with AMAZING character development. What more could a bookworm want? I wouldn’t recommend this book for classic beginners though as it’s heavier than some!
Writing Style: 5/5 // Originality: 4/5 // Entertainment: 4/5 // Character Development: 5/5 //Would I recommend this book? Yes!
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Have you read Jane Eyre or David Copperfield? What do you think of Jane as a feminist figure? Were you a fan of the character development in David Copperfield? Did these novels kick literary ass for you? Let me know in the comments! 🙂