My first introduction to the Brontë's legacy was in high school when my favorite teacher proclaimed: The Brontë girls were entirely too silly. They had no sense about men whatsoever. Being that I was in my dark times (Who didn't have those in high school?), the thought of reading a couple novels penned by silly girls was about the most unappealing thing I could imagine. I was all like: I'll just take this Dean Koontz paperback up to the treehouse, thank you very much. Boy, was I ever wrong...
When I picked up Jane Eyre as an adult, I realized that 15 year-old Christine would have adored the intelligent, principled, and independent heroine. Not to mention the fact that as a gothic novel, Jane Eyre is steeped in mystery and features a darkly romantic gentleman (Mr. Rochester), an imposing stately manor house (Thornfield Hall), and a ghostly presence (No need to fret, I won't ruin that one for you).
And of course, since the Brontë sisters were ladies of the Victorian era, there's also a healthy dose of semi-repressed sexuality. Well, what else can one expect from a period which hatched the famous myth that furniture legs must remain covered in order to prevent men being driven to erotic distraction by the legs' sensual shapes? But that's neither here nor there. My point being, that's exactly the sort of literary fare which would cause a teenage girl to fall head over heels.
I'm not certain if it's the fact that autumn began on Saturday, and even though the summer weather is still holding, the leaves are coming down and everything is beginning to seem rushed and transient and very keen; or that I feel like I'm entering into a period of my life where I need to be steadfast and brave and strong (Aren't challenges exciting?); or that I've realized I might be a bit of silly girl myself, but Jane Eyre is currently near and dear to my heart. Oh, who am I kidding? It always was.
If you love Jane Eyre, or anything by the Brontë sisters (Charlotte, Emily, or Ann), may I suggest We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson? I assure you, there will be no regrets.