A Jane Eyre Book Flight

A book flight is a curated sampling of reading material that shares some defining quality: theme, setting, time frame, subject matter, etc. Like a beverage flight, the samples are selected with care and presented together intentionally with the purpose of expanding the sampler’s horizons, developing literary discernment, and encouraging reflection and analysis as she considers, compares, and contrasts each book.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

My first introduction to the venerable Jane Eyre was alongside another Jane, who I took too a little more readily. Required reading the summer before my junior year’s AP English class consisted of Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë) and Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë). To cope with all the Brontës, I picked up my first Jane Austen novel – Emma. But this post isn’t really about Austen. It’s about Jane Eyre.

Orphaned and plain, Jane becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall under the employ of mysterious Mr. Rochester. Their love evolves amidst complex and complicated circumstances – a timeless story that provides commentary on gender, class and religion.

It wasn’t until years after that first reading of Jane Eyre that I truly appreciated her gumption and ability to make hard decisions. Life experience will do that to your perspective on classics, I think. And it wasn’t until recently that I wanted to read Jane Eyre again – thanks to the two other books below (and the bonus pick).

Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

Edward Rochester may not produce as many swoons as Mr. Darcy but he is an equally recognizable literary beau. It’s hard not to wonder at his gruff manners and mysterious ways even though he captures the heart of fair Jane. In her gorgeous novel telling the history of this complex hero, Sarah Shoemaker gives life and body to the wonder and mystery surrounding Mr. Rochester.

It would be a disservice to call Mr. Rochester fan fiction because Shoemaker has effortlessly captured the tone and style of a classic. The first half weaves the sprawling tale of Edward’s childhood, education, work and travels which are peppered with a wide array of relationships that form him into the Mr. Rochester who meets Jane on that fateful, icy day. The second half provides Mr. Rochester’s perspective on the events written by Charlotte.

This was an oddly page-turning novel for reading so much like classic literature. I loved it and it’s beautiful cover. (As you can see from the photo, I have this on my Kindle but I will be buying the hardback!)

The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel by Jasper Ffjorde

I don’t naturally lean towards sci-fi or fantasy in my book choices. Unless, of course, the books revolve around books (a la Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore or The Jane Austen Project). The Eyre Affair is such a book.

Jasper Ffjorde has created a Great Britain where time-travel is the norm and Special Operations has a Literary Division. When one of the most wanted criminals steals Jane Eyre from the original manuscript, LiteraTec Thursday Next is on the case.

I found this fantasy world so engrossing. Thursday Next is a quirky and a little brash. The idea of changing the history of literature by taking a character out of their book is intriguing and Ffjorde’s characterization of Jane outside of her own story was fun. Definitely a series I will return to.

What Should I Read Next: Episode 60 with Melissa Joulwan 

Mel Joulwan is a Paleo maven most known for her cookbooks Well Fed, Well Fed 2, and Well Fed Weeknights, but thanks to her conversation with Anne Bogel on the delightful podcast, What Should I Read Next, we now know she is a Jane Eyre enthusiast and avid collector. I loved listening to her describe her collection and why she connects with Jane.

What would you pair with Jane Eyre?

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8 thoughts on “A Jane Eyre Book Flight

  1. I love JE, and plan to read The Madwoman Upstairs and The Flight of Hemma Hardy along with JE this fall. Thank you for sharing your flight!

  2. I would add The Flight of Gemma Hardy, a re-telling of Jane Eyre set in the Scottish Orkney Islands in the 1950s and 60s. People who know Jane seem to either love or hate this one, but I enjoyed it, in part because of the setting. The Orkneys are an appropriate place for a mysterious gothic story.

  3. I also feel like it took me a few years to appreciate Jane’s decisions and character. I read this when I was in high school and was more interested in the romance and the plot, but through conversations about this book and seeing the latest adaptation that came out, I’ve come to see Jane with different eyes. I’d like to reread it soon followed by Mr. Rochester!

    1. I can’t remember the last adaptation I saw of Jane Eyre. Probably the one I watched in high school. I should accompany my re-read with the latest one! I know you will enjoy Mr. Rochester.

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