Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Brontë Sisters (Catherine Rayner)

Rayner, Catherine - The Bronte Sisters

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: The Brontë Sisters: Life, Loss and Literature
Author:  Catherine Rayner
Genre: Non-Fiction / Biography
First published: to be published 28 February 2018 by Pen & Sword
Edition: e-ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher

I am in two minds about this biography of the three Brontë sisters.

It was very interesting to get a wider context to the lives and works of Charlotte, Emily and Anne, and I enjoyed reading about the enigmatic sisters. The writer succeeds in painting a picture of their lives, their characters and the circumstances in which their works of literature came into being.

However, I did feel at times the book was quite repetitive and jumbled, which especially the first half the narrative suffers from. Of course, the subject is three sisters, who were touched by much the same events in their lives, such as the loss of their mother at an early age, the death of their two older sisters and the demise of their brother. I just found the way their life story did not flow that well. The second half, in which the author talks about each sister in turn, felt a little more focused and I enjoyed learning about all three women.

I read Jane Eyre in November and was not the biggest fan. I do wonder how I would feel now I have read Charlotte’s own story. The same goes for Wuthering Heights, which is on my shelf still to be read. I think that knowing more about these extraordinary women who wrote novels that still endure today, will enrich my experience reading their works in the future.

This is a very comprehensive look at the life and times of the Brontë sisters and if you do feel inclined to pick up any of their books, I think reading this biography will help understand the authors better and through them, their books. I simply feel it would have been a stronger read if it had been a bit more condensed and edited.

4 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)

Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Brontë
Genre: Fiction / Classics
First published: 1847
Edition: Clothbound hardback, published by Penguin Classics in 2008

It is never an easy thing rating or ‘judging’ a classic. With Jane Eyre, such a well-loved book, I found it even harder than normal. I picked up this book just as I was entering a reading slump, at a time when I was generally tired and distracted. Maybe this was not the book to read at such a time, but I initially liked it too much to put it away, even though I was only reading a few pages each day.1711 Jane Eyre

Certainly the first half of the book I liked a lot. I loved Jane’s character and followed her eagerly from Gateshead to Lowood to Thornfield. I connected with her person and her thoughts and was enjoying her journey through life.

However, I found myself getting a bit annoyed with Jane as she swooned after Mr Rochester. She lost a bit of the sensible character I had liked so much. The way he treats her and the way she treats him frustrated me and I found their relationship a bit irksome. I felt like Jane was turning into a person I no longer connected with.

Her actions following the discovery of Mr Rochester’s actions I did not quite understand and I am sorry to say that I never did regain my connection with her.

I did like the ending of the book, but it did not make up for the loss of sympathy for the main character.

A note on the rating. I based this on how much I enjoyed the book. I will say that this was probably not the best time to read this book, so I hope I can re-read it in the future at a time when it may suit my mood better.

And another note on this Penguin Classics clothbound edition; It is an absolutely beautiful book, but rather unwieldy to read.

4 out of 7 stars