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Jane Eyre

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Overview

Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman's passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed. With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous ...
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Jane Eyre

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Overview

Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman's passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed. With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte's innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.

In early nineteenth-century England, an orphaned young woman accepts employment as a governess at Thornfield Hall, a country estate owned by the mysteriously remote Mr. Rochester.

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Editorial Reviews

USA Today
In a cultivated British voice, O'Brien delivers Bronte's crisp dialogue and vivid descriptions with a calm elegance, infusing the appropriate characterization into every character.
Library Journal
Written in 1847, this novel remains a favorite, especially among younger readers and listeners who continue to be entranced by the young Jane and her mysterious Mr. Rochester. The story of an unhappy orphan and her life as a governess at Thornfield is filled with difficulty, including a shocking revelation on her wedding day. The happy ending finally arrives, though, and Jane and Rochester are united forever. Long criticized as being melodramatic and contrived, Jane Eyre has nonetheless become a romantic classic and is often the book that introduces students to serious literature. Bronte's suspense-filled plot adapts well to the audio format. This version, although abridged, omits nothing of importance. Juliet Stevenson, a Royal Shakespeare Company associate, reads with the drama the story demands and makes each character emerge with life and energy. Recommended for general audiences.
— Michael Neubert, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
— Michael Neubert, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Library Journal
Written in 1847, this novel remains a favorite, especially among younger readers and listeners who continue to be entranced by the young Jane and her mysterious Mr. Rochester. The story of an unhappy orphan and her life as a governess at Thornfield is filled with difficulty, including a shocking revelation on her wedding day. The happy ending finally arrives, though, and Jane and Rochester are united forever. Long criticized as being melodramatic and contrived, Jane Eyre has nonetheless become a romantic classic and is often the book that introduces students to serious literature. Bronte's suspense-filled plot adapts well to the audio format. This version, although abridged, omits nothing of importance. Juliet Stevenson, a Royal Shakespeare Company associate, reads with the drama the story demands and makes each character emerge with life and energy. Recommended for general audiences.
From the Publisher
"A masterwork. This reverse Cinderella story becomes a vital and energetic tale through McCaddon's lovely rendition." —-Library Journal Audio Review
Micael M. Clarke Loyola University
"Joining fiction to history, this edition of Jane Eyre illustrates the way literature addresses important moral and political issues. The original nineteenth-century documents in the appendices provide an invaluable opportunity for readers to view the novel in both its biographical and its historical contexts; it illustrates, in a broader sense, how literature is a vital element in the discourse of an age, and thus helps shape history."
Mary Ellis Gibson University of North Carolina
"While the student who approaches Jane Eyre for the first time or the reader unfamiliar with Victorian culture will find Richard Nemesvari's introduction and annotations very useful, most helpful of all are the appendices, which place the novel in the context of Victorian writing on governesses, gender roles, empire and race. The Broadview edition of Jane Eyre makes it possible for readers to approach Brontë's novel with a fuller sense of the way it engages important Victorian social issues. An excellent introduction to Jane Eyre in its time."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789626343579
  • Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
  • Publication date: 7/28/2005
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 17 CDs, 20 hours
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 2.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855) was from an English family that produced three novelists: herself, Emily, and Anne. Besides Jane Eyre, her best known work is Wuthering Heights, also available from Brilliance Audio.

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Read an Excerpt

Jane Eyre

Chapter 1

THERE was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise was now out of the question.

I was glad of it; I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.

The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round their mamma in the drawing-room: she lay reclined on a sofa by the fireside, and with her darlings about her (for the time neither quarrelling nor crying) looked perfectly happy. Me, she had dispensed from joining the group, saying, "She regretted to be under the necessity of keeping me at a distance; but that until she heard from Bessie, and could discover by her own observation that I was endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner—something lighter, franker, more natural, as it were—she really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy little children."

"What does Bessie say I have done?" I asked.

"Jane, I don't like cavillers or questioners; besides, there is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly, remain silent."

A small breakfast-room adjoined the drawing-room, I slipped in there. It contained a bookcase; I soon possessedmyself of a volume, taking care that it should be one stored with pictures. I mounted into the window-seat: gathering up my feet, I sat cross-legged, like a Turk; and, having drawn the red moreen curtain nearly close, I was shrined in double retirement.

Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves in my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near, a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.

I returned to my book—Bewick's History of British Birds: the letterpress thereof I cared little for, generally speaking; and yet there were certain introductory pages that, child as I was, I could not pass quite as a blank. They were those which treat of the haunts of sea-fowl; of "the solitary rocks and promontories" by them only inhabited; of the coast of Norway, studded with isles from its southern extremity, the Lindeness, or Naze, to the North Cape—

Where the Norther Ocean, in vast whirls, Boils round the naked, melancholy isles Of farthest Thule; and the Atlantic surge Pours in among the stormy Hebrides.

Nor could I pass unnoticed the suggestion of the bleak shores of Lapland, Siberia, Spitzbergen, Nova Zembla, Iceland, Greenland, with "the vast sweep of the Arctic Zone, and those forlorn regions of dreary space—that reservoir of frost and snow, where firm fields of ice, the accumulation of centuries of winters, glazed in Alpine heights above heights, surround the pole, and concentre the multiplied rigours of extreme cold." Of these death-white realms I formed an idea of my own: shadowy, like all the half-comprehended notions that float dim through children's brains, but strangely impressive. The words in these introductory pages connected themselves with the succeeding vignettes, and gave significance to the rock standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray; to thebroken boat stranded on a desolate coast; to the cold and ghastly moon glancing through bars of cloud at a wreck just sinking.

I cannot tell what sentiment haunted the quite solitary churchyard, with its inscribed headstone; its gate, its two trees, its low horizon, girdled by a broken wall, and its newly risen crescent, attesting the hour of eventide.

The two ships becalmed on a torpid sea, I believed to be marine phantoms.

The fiend pinning down the thief's pack behind him, I passed over quickly: it was an object of terror.

So was the black, horned thing seated aloof on a rock, surveying a distant crowd surrounding a gallows.

Each picture told a story; mysterious often to my undeveloped understanding and imperfect feelings, yet ever profoundly interesting: as interesting as the tales Bessie sometimes narrated on winter evenings, when she chanced to be in good humour; and when, having brought her ironing-table to the nursery-hearth, she allowed us to sit about it, and while she got up Mrs. Reed's lace frills, and crimped her nightcap borders, fed our eager attention with passages of love and adventure taken from old fairy tales and older ballads; or (as at a later period I discovered) from the pages of Pamela, and Henry, Earl of Moreland.

With Bewick on my knee, I was then happy: happy at least in my way. I feared nothing but interruption, and that came too soon. The breakfast-room door was opened.

"Boh! Madam Mope!" cried the voice of John Reed; then he paused: he found the room apparently empty.

"Where the dickens is she?" he continued. "Lizzy! Georgy! (calling to his sisters) Jane is not here: tell mamma she is run out into the rain—bad animal!"

"It is well I drew the curtain," thought I, and I wished fervently he might not discover my hiding-place: nor would John Reed have found it out himself; he was not quick either of vision or conception; but Eliza just put her head in at the door, and said at once: "She is in the window-seat, to be sure, Jack."

And I came out immediately, for I trembled at the idea of being dragged forth by the said Jack.

"What do you want?" I asked with awkward diffidence.

"Say, 'what do you want, Master Reed,'" was the answer. "I want you to come here"; and seating himself in an armchair, he intimated by a gesture that I was to approach and stand before him.

John Reed was a schoolboy of fourteen years old; four years older than I, for I was but ten; large and stout for his age, with a dingy and unwholesome skin; thick lineaments in a spacious visage, heavy limbs and large extremities. He gorged himself habitually at table, which made him bilious, and gave him a dim and bleared eye with flabby cheeks. He ought now to have been at school; but his mamma had taken him home for a month or two, "on account of his delicate health." Mr. Miles, the master, affirmed that he would do very well if he had few cakes and sweetmeats sent him from home; but the mother's heart turned from an opinion so harsh, and inclined rather to the more refined idea that John's sallowness was owing to over-application, and, perhaps, to pining after home.

John had not much affection for his mother and sisters, and an antipathy to me. He bullied and punished me; not two or three times in the week, nor once or twice in a day, but continually: every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh on my bones shrank when he came near. There were moments when I was bewildered by the terror he inspired, because I had no appeal whatever against either his menaces or his inflictions; the servants did not like to offend their young master by taking my part against him, and Mrs. Reed was blind and deaf on the subject: she never saw him strike or heard him abuse me, though he did both now and then in her very presence; more frequently, however, behind her back.

Habitually obedient to John, I came up to his chair: he spent some three minutes in thrusting out his tongue at me as far as he could without damaging the roots: I knew he would soon strike, and while dreading the blow, I mused on the disgusting and ugly appearance of him who would presently deal it. I wonder if he read that notion in my face; for, all at once, without speaking, he struck suddenly and strongly. I tottered, and on regaining my equilibrium retired back a step or two from his chair.

"That is for your impudence in answering mamma a while since," said he, "and for your sneaking way of getting behind curtains, and for the look you had in your eyes two minutes since, you rat!"

Accustomed to John Reed's abuse, I never had an idea of replying to it: my care was how to endure the blow which would certainly follow the insult.

"What were you doing behind the curtain?" he asked.

"I was reading."

"Show the book."

I returned to the window and fetched it thence.

"You have no business to take our books; you are a dependent, mamma says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen's children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mamma's expense. Now, I'll teach you to rummage my bookshelves: for they are mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. Go and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror and windows."

I did so, not at first aware what was his intention; but when I saw him lift and poise the book and stand in act to hurl it, I instinctively started aside with a cry of alarm: not soon enough, however; the volume was flung, it hit me, and I fell, striking my head against the door and cutting it. The cut bled, the pain was sharp: my terror had passed its climax; other feelings succeeded.

"Wicked and cruel boy!" I said. "You are like a murderer—you are like a slave-driver—you are like the Roman emperors!"

I had read Goldsmith's History of Rome, and had formed my opinion of Nero, Caligula, &c. Also I had drawn parallels in silence, which I never thought thus to have declared aloud.

"What! what!" he cried. "Did she say that to me? Did you hear her, Eliza and Georgiana? Won't I tell mamma? but first—"

He ran headlong at me: I felt him grasp my hair and my shoulder: he had closed with a desperate thing. I really saw in him a tyrant: a murderer. I felt a drop or two of blood from my head trickle down my neck, and was sensible of somewhat pungent suffering: these sensations for the time predominatedover fear, and I received him in frantic sort. I don't very well know what I did with my hands, but he called me "Rat! rat!" and bellowed out aloud. Aid was near him: Eliza and Georgiana had run for Mrs. Reed, who was gone upstairs; she now came upon the scene, followed by Bessie and her maid Abbot. We were parted: I heard the words—

"Dear! dear! What a fury to fly at Master John!"

"Did ever anybody see such a picture of passion!"

Then Mrs. Reed subjoined: "Take her away to the red-room, and lock her in there." Four hands were immediately laid upon me, and I was borne upstairs.

All new material copyright © 1994 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC

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Table of Contents


Introduction     7
Biographical Sketch     9
The Story Behind the Story     11
List of Characters     14
Summary and Analysis     18
Critical Views     45
John Maynard on Jane's Sexual Awakening     45
Irene Tayler on Bronte's Heroines     51
Anita Levy Contrasts Jane, Blanche, and Bertha     56
John G. Peters on Jane's Otherness     61
Lawrence J. Starzyk on the Significance of Pictures     74
Micael M. Clarke Compares Jane to Cinderella     80
Works by Charlotte Bronte     90
Annotated Bibliography     91
Contributors     94
Acknowledgments     96
Index     97
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Reading Group Guide

1. In Jane Eyre, nothing can better show a man's moral worth than the way in which he treats the women in his life. How is Rochester's character reflected in the way he treats Jane, Adele, Bertha Mason, and Miss Ingram, and in his reported treatment of Celine Varens? How is St. John's character reflected in the way he treats Jane, Miss Oliver, and Diana and Mary? Why does this serve as such a good gauge of a man's morality and worth? What other relationships serve similar functions in the novel?

2. Throughout the novel, questions of identity are raised. From her identity as an orphan and stranger in the hostile environment of Gateshead Hall to that of a ward of the church at Lowood; from her being a possible wife of Rochester, then of St. John, to being the cousin of Diana and Mary, Jane is constantly in transition. Trace these changes in identity and how they affect Jane's view of herself and the world around her. Describe the final discovery of her identity that becomes apparent in the last chapter of the novel and the events that made that discovery possible.

3. Throughout the novel, Charlotte Brontë uses biblical quotes and religious references. From the church-supported school she attended that was run by Mr. Brocklehurst to the offer of marriage she receives from St. John, she is surrounded by aspects of Christianity. How does this influence her throughout her development? How do her views of God and Christianity change from her days as a young girl to the end of the novel? How is religion depicted in the novel, positively or negatively?

4. Many readers of Jane Eyre feel that the story is composed of two distinct parts, different in tone and purpose. Thefirst part (chapters 1-11) concerns her childhood at Gateshead and her life at Lowood; the second part is the remainder of the story. Is creating such a division justified? Is there a genuine difference of tone and purpose between the two sections as they have been described? Some critics and readers have suggested that the first part of Jane Eyre is more arresting because it is more directly autobiographical. Do you find this to be true?

5. Upon publication, great speculation arose concerning the identity of the author of Jane Eyre, known only by the pen name Currer Bell. Questions as to the sex of the author were raised, and many critics said that they believed it to be the work of a man. One critic of her time said, "A book more unfeminine, both in its excellence and defects, it would be hard to find in the annals of female authorship. Throughout there is masculine power, breadth and shrewdness, combined with masculine hardness, coarseness, and freedom of expression." Another critic of the day, Elizabeth Rigby, said that if it was the product of a female pen, then it was the writing of a woman "unsexed." Why was there such importance placed on the sex of the author and why was it questioned so readily? What does it mean that people believed it to be the product of a man rather than of a woman?

6. Scenes of madness and insanity are among the most important plot devices in Jane Eyre. From the vision Jane sees when locked in the bedroom at Gateshead to her hearing the "goblin laughter" she attributes to Grace Poole, to the insanity and wretchedness of Bertha Mason, madness is of central importance to the plot and direction of the story. Give examples of madness in the text, and show how they affect the reader's understanding of the character experiencing the madness and how these examples affect the reader's understanding of the characters witnessing it.

7. There is probably no single line in the whole of Jane Eyre that has, in itself, attracted as much critical attention as the first line of the last chapter: "Reader, I married him." Why is the phrasing of this line so important? How would the sense be different-for the sentence and for the novel as a whole-if the line read, "Reader, we were married"?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 815 )
Rating Distribution

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4 Star

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(61)

2 Star

(30)

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(70)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 822 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 19, 2011

    Many Many Errors

    I love Jane Eyre, but during "Chaptee 1", Jane's relatives are either the Eeeds, the Keeds, or even the Beeds, but rarely the Reeds. Find another version!

    9 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    So Interesting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I loved this book!!! It really makes you think of all of the possibilities in life. It has really high vocab but the nook has a built in dictionary so you can understand it( Im a 12 year old and I read it).Everyone has to read this book because it teaches you many things about life. I won't say what happened ( because I dont want to ruin it for you) but I reccomend it for everyone.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    Anonymous

    Great book for those whom appreciate details, old english writing style(yet very understandable), a romantic tragedy, and the years of a girl becoming a woman. Although, not many will enjoy such book if your not into classics. Hope you enjoy Jane Eyre or give it a try.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2008

    Great Book

    This book was a bit slow through the first half, but once it gets past Jane's childhood it becomes fascinating and was actually hard to put down. I was amazed by Brontë's vocabulary, writing style, and ability to create such an intriguing and original plot. This is the kind of book that makes you really feel for the characters and get lost in the adventures of their lives. Right when you think you know what's going to happen, Jane Eyre surprises you and another twist to the plot comes in. By the end of the book, I really respected Jane's character and was glad that everything turned out in a way that she liked and had not expected. This is a great classic -- read it!

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    AWESOME!!!!!!

    Great book. I luved it!!

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2012

    My paper copy fell apart from too many readings...

    I adore this book. Read it for the first time at age ten. Several times since. Its amazing how your reading changes as your understanding does.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2012

    Enduring

    Start to finish, Jane Eyre remains gripping. Always a favorite, despite many years of rereading.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 14, 2012

    Great Classic Book

    I had never read this book in High School like my daughter did and thought it was about time I read it. It is my daughter's favorite book. It was well written and had a good plot. Writers in the distant past payed a lot more attention to describing in detail the surroundings and the thoughts and feelings going on in the main character's head. Today's authors are too much in a hurry to go into so much detail. Some of the description I wanted to be done with already, but others I greatly enjoyed because it gave me insight into Jane and Mr. Rochester. It made them into real people. This book shows how someone who had a rather wretched childhood could grow up to be a very fine woman.

    Great book!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2012

    Should i continue?

    I read some post that mentioned intense romance. Im under the age of 11. Should i keep reading? Ive already started.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2014

    Whole-Heartedly Recommend

    Never before has a book so easily become my favorite. After you get through the first few pages, you can easily understand what Jane is saying in modern terms. I'm not going to lie, it was a little low in the beginning, but as tge story progresses you'll be so sucked into Jane's life. I love this book so much and recommend it 100%!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2012

    Jane Eyre!

    I haven't finished the book, but so far it bas been astounding! I saw the recent movie and adored, so I am reading the book. Chapter one is slow, but picks up soon. I am shocked by how hooked I was by chapter four. Very elaborate descrptions, but those never caused any harm. Enjoying thoroughly!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2012

    Loved it!

    Wasnt as dry as others I've read. Might just read it again.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

    God!

    The person that wrote the review "Intense read", you write too much. If people wanted to know about the book, then they could just read it themself! Duh!

    1 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2012

    Blah

    All they talk about is talk

    1 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2012

    Ehh its boring but has very rich language

    Its a very slow read and often drags on i often enjoy reading classic books but this one just didnt capture my attention it also made it worse that i had to read it for honors english i didnt enjoys it it was pretty boring but i understood it and the language is rich if you are okay with reading a slow paced book this is for you its also very dark andnceepy too

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    Booooo

    Not a good book

    1 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 3, 2011

    Great book bad service

    The book is great but B&N sucks because I never received the book

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2007

    Classic.

    Overall, I think the novel, Jane Eyre, is a great story of love and faith. Throughout the novel, Charlotte Bronte gives great descriptions of everything going on mentally and physically around Jane Eyre throughout her life. The character of Jane is greatly relatable to every reader because of her great struggles with finding a family, and finding a way to make the one true love of her life work out while still keeping her morals. Jane Eyre is also an enjoyable novel in the fact that Charlotte Bronte made a seemingly ordinary love story novel into a much more complex and interesting novel, that turns out to be much more than just a love novel in the end. Jane Eyre is also a commendable novel because throughout the novel, Charlotte Bronte continuously keeps you guessing about the ending of the novel. Additionally, Charlotte Bronte gave not only a detailed description for Jane Bronte, and the other main characters, but she also gave gratifying descriptions for other characters that weren't mentioned through the novel very often, giving them a memorable personality and character in the novel. As a whole, Jane Eyre is a great novel that I would highly recommend for any reader, especially ones interested in the time era in which it was written. Jane Eyre is a classic piece of literature which most difficult to put down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2014

    English classic that set the style for the genre

    For the next couple hundred years of gothic romance and still going strong. Older classics wordy because you had to get your money worth from a book as quick reads not popular when was no tv movies or radio. Even in kids books like secret garden. And they wrote in script too just imagine the copying and editing and tyoe setting to come out with a book in print.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    Don't bother

    Typos are too distracting to get past the second page.

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