Thursday, October 25, 2012

Becoming Jane Eyre, Sheila Kohler

He wakes to the scratching of a pencil against a page: a noise out of the darkness. He lies quite still on his back, reaching out for sound. His ears have become wings, straining, stretching, carrying him away. The world comes to him only through sound, and there is precious little of that.

Becoming Jane Eyre is the story of the Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne. It focuses particularly on Charlotte and the writing of Jane Eyre. The story starts in a parsonage 1846, with a mother and two children dead, and the Bronte sisters' brother destroyed by alcohol and drugs. Their father has gone blind, and is very weak. But these three independent women are determined to get their books published and survive. The book shifts perspective from chapter to chapter, though it's mainly from Charlotte's point of view. I've read Jane Eyre (you kind of have to before you read this one), as well as Wuthering Heights and  Agnes Gray, so I got most of the references.

This book is characterized as "a novel", so I don't know how many of the facts are true, but it was still interesting to learn about the family's past. I'm sure Charlotte and Emily had no idea that their books would become classics and still be read even now (Anne Bronte is much less well known.) And I loved the way that Charlotte came up with all of her ideas for the characters and events in Jane Eyre. Kohler's writing style was engaging, and I enjoyed this book. I now want to read Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of Charlotte Bronte, and compare it to this.

Read Becoming Jane Eyre:
  • if you liked Jane Eyre 
  • if you like any of the Bronte sisters
  • if you like historical fiction (read Jane Eyre first though)
232 pages.
Very Good! I would recommend this book!

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