Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre (Collector’s Library) by Charlotte Bronte | LibraryThing

* 1001 Books Book

Brontë, C. (1993). Jane Eyre. New York: Modern Library.

I remember having listened to the audio book when I was in junior high. Yet, I did not feel as though I could say I had actually read Brontë’s Jane Eyre. So, I picked up the book a second time.

Jane is an orphaned girl stuck with her mean, widowed, and wealthy aunt, Mrs. Reed, and her wretched cousins. Jane suffers at their hands to the point of being thrilled to go to boarding school just to escape their heavy-handed cruelty.

At the Lowood School, however, Jane finds more of the same abuses and deprivations. Under the direction of the antagonistic and puritanical Mr. Brocklehurst, Jane and her peers go more days without what they need. When Mr. Brocklehurst loses his position, though, and a new committee takes over Lowood, life for the students dramatically improves.

As an adult, Jane becomes a governess. She takes on employment at Thornfield manor under Byronic hero Mr. Rochester. Jane develops romantic feelings for Mr. Rochester, an enigmatic man with a past of his own.

I found Jane Eyre quite powerful in the creation and phrasing of the eponymous character. Simultaneously compassionate and willful, Jane can stand on her own. Mr. Rochester seems to love this quality, too. Jane is unsinkable and can look out for herself. In the ways that counts for Brontë, her orphaned heroine and Byronic hero are a perfect match.

It’s difficult for me to see if this is where the clichés of gothic romance originate or if it was already old hat. A similar question I had was whether all of the orphan misery was original to Brontë or if it was borrowed with Dickens. It definitely met my melodrama quota for the year.

Three out of Five Pearls

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Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

Audio Book

Audio Book

*1001 Books Book

Chopin, K., & O’Karma, A. (1987). The awakening. Charlotte Hall, MD: Recorded Books.

When perusing the audio bookshelf at my library, I saw The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Remembering comparisons to Flaubert’s Madame Bovery, Tolstoy’s  Anna Karenina, and part of Lahiri’s The Namesake, I readily grabbed the audiobook. With the soft-spoken narration of Alexandra O’Karma, I soon enjoyed The Awakening.

The Awakening begins in late nineteenth century Grand Isle, Louisiana, a resort for the New Orleans “who’s who.” The lovely and intelligent wife and mother of two, Edna Pontillier focuses intently on her conversation with Robert Lebrun. Edna’s husband, Léonce, looks upon her as a cherished possession and so Edna basks in the attentions Robert, the grown son of the owner of the Grand Isle resort.  Growing up in a Protestant home and converting to Catholicism in order to marry Léonce, Edna is much the outsider. No matter how much she spends time with friend Adèle Ratignolle, Edna’s disconnect and discontent pushes her into a metamorphosis or awakening all of her own. Once Edna rises from this deep slumber that has been her life, she strives to capture personal happiness in late nineteenth century New Orleans.

I liked many aspects of this book. Chopin captures the life of Edna Pontellier so well. Additionally, both heroine and writer are women. Where Flaubert and Tolstoy felt sympathetic towards their respective heroines, Chopin portrays more empathy for Edna Pontillier. Also, Chopin’s characters clearly stood out in my mind.

I did not like the resolution of the story, though. What happens in the end is quite debatable and I will leave it for future readers to interpret. Does Edna Pontillier triumph? Let me know what you think. . .

Four out of Five Pearls Places: Grand Isle, LA; New Orleans, LA, Kentucky

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The Shack by William P. Young

God as you have never seen Him before.

God as you have never seen Him before.

Young, W. P. (2007). The shack: a novel. Newbury Park, Calif: Windblown Media.

The hostess of the Bible Study I attend each Tuesday determined that I, the librarian in the group, should choose a book for all of us to read for the summer. At the end of the season, the hostess wanted me to lead a discussion on the book I selected. Very quickly, my mom noticed The Shack by William P. Young. After I had read the first chapter on a website for the book, Mom and I quickly acquired the book. Soon, Mom had finished The Shack. Then, I was completely enthralled by this book myself.

The Shack is one book where a reader should start with the Foreword rather than skip to the first chapter. Here, the writer, “Willie” offers the reader a sketch of the protagonist, Mackenzie “Mack” Allen Phillips. Mack is a husband and a father of five children. While on a Labor Day weekend family camping trip with his three youngest children, his youngest child, Missy, is abducted. After seeing indications of Missy’s murder in an old shack, Mack feels The Great Sadness settle upon him. Four years later, Mack receives a letter from “Papa” (Mack’s wife, Nanette, calls God “Papa”). Papa invites Mack to the same shack for a weekend. When curiosity gets the best of Mack, Mack faces some of his darkest hours.

Overall, I was truly impressed by The Shack. I found Mack to be a sympathetic character. Also, I really appreciated Young’s writing style. I gather Young is a visual learner like me. I felt as though I could see perfectly the places and the situations where Mack walked. In addition, I like how this book presents questions such as: “Is it necessary to have a good, strong relationship with God?” “How can we be expected to forgive even the most heinous of crimes?” and “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Much controversy has taken place over this book, actually. Some stores do not even sell it for crazy views presented in The Shack. While I do not agree with everything said by the characters, I found many of the points made quite valid. In the end, The Shack is a work of fiction. Yet, one uneasy thing to do would be to forget this book. Like belief and trust, some of the events and concepts presented in The Shack take a Kierkagaardian Leap of Faith.

Five Out of Five Pearls

Places: Oregon, Nebraska, Heaven,