Bookish Discussions · Reviews

Celebrating Charlotte Brontë | Transforming Life into Literature in Jane Eyre:


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars | Read: 15 June – 23 June, 2018

‘Whatever now becomes of the work – the occupation of writing has been a real boon to me – it took me out of dark and desolate reality to an unreal but happier region… imagination lifted me when I was sinking… I am thankful to God who gave me this faculty’ – Charlotte Brontë, 29 August 1849.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I purchased this at the Brontë Parsonage the other week. I had my doubts. I thought it might drag considering it’s more of a scholarly read than anything else. Luckily, though, I enjoy books of this nature when it concerns my favourite family. Christine Alexander and Sara L. Pearson join together to analyse Jane Eyre from a whole new angle. By providing both a commentary and illustrations, they explore how Charlotte managed to ‘transform her lived experience into a fictional masterpiece’. They do this by honing in on the material objects in each and every chapter, connecting them back to the family or contemporary culture.

I couldn’t get enough of this. I itched to read more every time I put it down. The only reason it took me so long to read was because I was extremely busy this past week, but it still played on my mind. It introduced me to so many new arguments. From now on, I will be able to read my favourite novel in a completely new light. I will be able to make connections between Charlotte’s juvenilia, her earthly possessions, and her lived experiences with those of Jane. I’ll be able to link the narrative with biblical readings, contemporary culture, and the landscape. In essence, I have a much richer view of Jane Eyre now. I anticipate reading it again, just so I can find these connections.

In addition to this, I really enjoyed the writing style. I never picked up on the fact that this was written by two different people – authors from two different countries, bearing in mind. The writing flowed effortlessly, and I couldn’t discern between the two. I’m not sure how they did it, but it was executed perfectly. Moreover, I think having two authors was vital for this book – it allowed room for more arguments, or different sides of the same argument. They covered every possibility, and I don’t think this book could have achieved its success without both Alexander and Pearson. I liked this aspect a lot more than I expected.

I also loved the way the book was framed. It fit brilliantly with the intense scrutiny of the narrative. They dissected each and every chapter, picking out all the important materialistic aspects of the novel. They didn’t miss anything out. I think this would be an ideal book for those wanting to write a piece on Jane Eyre, or for those who are wanting a more detailed insight to the novel. I learnt a great deal about contemporary culture – I found out the meaning behind jugs, rings, an ivory calling card, and a fob chain. I learnt even more about phrenology and physiognomy, and how it played a crucial role in the narrative. They really researched and presented their knowledge in the best possible way.

Overall, I would highly recommend Alexander and Pearson’s Celebrating Charlotte Brontë: Transforming Life into Literature in Jane Eyre, especially if you’re interested in this kind of academic and analytical read. I know it can be tedious at times, but this one was exceptional. What’s great is that the authors provided you with rich biographical detail alongside a rich analysis of the novel. They combine the two, meaning there is an aspect suited to everyone’s tastes.

Have you read any of Charlotte’s novels? If so, what’s your favourite? I’d love to know!

Thanks for reading, Lauren X


4 thoughts on “Celebrating Charlotte Brontë | Transforming Life into Literature in Jane Eyre:

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