Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review: Jane Eyre Audiobook

Jane Eyre 
By Charlotte Bronte
Read by Emma Fielding
Naxos Audiobooks 2009

Jane Eyre [With CDROM]

I had the embarrassing distinction of being one of the last people on the face of the earth to get through the story of Jane Eyre. I sort of knew the concept, but this was the first time I heard the story from the beginning to the end…or so I thought. I was dismayed to read the tiny print sometime during the second disk that this was the abridged version. Sigh. I was more than halfway through, so I just went with it.

In case you live under a bigger rock than I do, Jane Eyre is the story of a young orphan. She lives with her cruel aunt and cousins until she gets the opportunity to attend and then teach at a boarding school. Searching for a change in her life, she takes a job as a governess. She loves teaching her young pupil and is intrigued by the girl’s mysterious guardian Mr. Rochester.

I don’t know how many of my issues with this book have to do with the unexpected abridgement. I felt like there wasn’t a narrative throughout. Her terrible childhood with her relatives had practically nothing to do with the rest of the book. Bronte could have taken it out entirely with little consequence. I was really interested in the crux of the story - her relationship with Mr. Rochester, the mystery of Thornfield Hall, and the ways that Jane changes as she grows up.

I enjoyed Jane as a protagonist. I admired her determination and her unwavering belief, even when honoring those beliefs could hurt her. Despite this, I always felt a distance from her. She continuously seemed like someone I was reading about in a book, not someone who I could actually meet and get to know.

I enjoyed listening to this, and I think that sometime down the road I will pick up the (entire) book and actually read it. I know that many people count Jane Eyre as one of their favorite novels, and it’s a great story that has endured for generations.

Alright readers, tell me about your feelings for Jane. Do you love her, despise her, find her overrated? Do you read this every year because it’s your favorite book? Are my problems because I listened to a third-rate abridgment? I want to hear all about it! 


  1. I feel about her the same way I feel about a lot of Dickens characters: they are entertaining, but the author paints their horrible, deprived and tragic lives so strongly that I just can't relate. Poor privileged me!

    I also think by and large the Bronte heroines have annoying persecution complexes. Agnes Grey is the WORST.

    1. I see what you are saying. I thought the book was fine, but I know some people who really and truly adore Jane. It's not going to be my favorite classic, but I'm glad I read it.