My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book. The flowery language takes some getting used to for the modern ear but the book was excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed her feminism, her class commentary, her religious sensibilities, and her practical views on marriage (adjusted for the times). With the huge numbers of reviews done by those with far more literary finesse than I possess, swine should not attempt to cast pearls. Five stars for Miss Bronte.
My purposes here are to comment on the following editions of this book:
the Kindle Penguin Classics edition: Jane Eyre (ASIN*: B002RI9XEC) and
the Audible Brilliance edition: Jane Eyre (ASIN*: B001I7RRUK).
I feel that both of these editions were very helpful to my understanding and enjoyment of this work. Due to the fact that these are the only editions of the book that I have read / listened, the following should not be regarded as a critical comparison to other editions but rather simply a favorable mention of the strengths of these particular editions. For me the Penguin Classics edition is very helpful because of two features. 1) The volume is extensively footnoted. These footnotes are useful to the literary inept (such as myself) to explain the various literary, classical, and Biblical references and common terms of the time and setting (mid 19the century Northern England) that have since become anachronisms. These can be as simple as describing an Amazon hat to extensive passages out of the Bible. Also included are references to Bronte’s other works giving the reader a better grasp of Bronte’s thinking. For example:
“All John Reed’s violent tyrannies, all his sisters’ proud indifference, all his mother’s aversion, all the servants’ partiality, turned up in my disturbed mind like a dark deposit in a turbid well. Why was I always suffering, always browbeaten, always accused, for ever condemned? Why could I never please? 7 Why was it useless to try to win anyone’s favour? Eliza, who was headstrong and selfish, was respected.”
Brontë, Charlotte (2006-06-29). Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics) (pp. 6-7). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.
And the corresponding footnote:
“7 . Why could I never please: This theme is presaged by Charlotte Brontë’s thinly veiled confessional account in a Brussels essay of 17 October 1843, entitled ‘Letter From a Poor Painter to a Great Lord’: ‘Throughout my early youth the difference that existed between myself and most of the people around me was, for me, an embarrassing enigma … I believed myself inferior to everyone, and it grieved me’ (Belgian Essays, p. 362).”
Brontë, Charlotte (2006-06-29). Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics) . Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.
A Kindle (or other electronic reader) has a decided advantage for such extensive footnoting in that it only requires a click (or screen tap) to go back and forth between text and footnotes. Such footnoting would be extremely laborious in a printed version.
The second feature is a very good Introduction which explains the novel in context to the time and why it was important. Alas this Introduction has spoilers for the book. As such a first time reader should leave the Introduction for the end of the book. If one has read it before and remembers the story, the Introduction may very well be helpful to read in advance of the book.
My only complaint with this edition is minor. For the second generation Kindle and Kindle for Mac, there are no chapter listings in the table of contents. The entire novel appears under one line. This is not true on the second generation PaperWhite or Kindle-Fire HDX, all of the chapters are listed even though the same Kindle file was used on all of the devices. On those devices that do not support the chapter listings, the problem can easily be solved by searching "chapter."
In conjunction to reading the Penguin Classic Kindle edition of this novel, I also listened to the Audible edition Jane Eyre [Brilliance Edition] narrated by Susan Ericksen (ASIN*: B001I7RRUK). I am a neophyte to Audible so take my comments with a grain of salt. This edition uses Amazon’s Whispersync (as do some of the other Audible versions) to allow synching your progress with other Kindle devices to the Kindle edition discussed above. It also allows “immersion reading” on devices that support it. Ms. Ericksen does an excellent job of narrating this book. She uses different voices for the various characters which delineates each character in the narration very well. She also employs what I considered to be a proper amount of theatrical embellishment where required. I did not find myself gritting my teeth due to an overly theatrical production, but rather a very enjoyable use of her excellent voice to establish the proper emotions being conveyed. One gets the feeling that it is indeed Jane Eyre, not reading a book, but telling you a story.
I found that I thoroughly enjoyed the process of “immersion reading.” After downloading both files into my Kindle-Fire HDX, I was able to open the Kindle version of the book and play the Audible version simultaneously. The line being spoken is highlighted on the Kindle screen. Pages turns occur automatically. With the extensive footnoting, if a footnote was tapped, the narration automatically stopped. It had to be manually restarted (requiring two screen taps) upon returning back to the text. The only complaints I have with the immersion style reading is that it runs just a bit too fast for me at the normal speed, and for some reason a page change often butchers the first syllable of the first word spoken on the following page. It appears that the page flip interferes with the narration. The narration speed can be slowed down, but with the 25% steps that the Kindle-Fire offers, at 75%, it is painfully slow and the narrator begins to sound a bit drunk. I would like a user inputted variable setting or at least more steps. I think 90 to 95% would work well for me.
|Audible Version Narrated by Susan Ericksen|
Image Credit: Amazon.com
There were some minor differences between the narrated text and the Kindle text, but these were infrequent (bearing in mind that I did not employ immersion reading for the entire book which is the only time that one would notice these differences). Usually these were single words or short phrases that appeared in the text but not in the narration. They caused no synching difficulties.
All in all, I believe that the Audible version was critical in helping me get through the unfamiliar literary language of the book. Five stars to both of these versions of this great book. When you consider that I spent 99 cents for each version (you have to buy the Kindle version first to get the Audible version for 99 cents), I believe I got one hell of a book reading bargain.
View all my reviews
*Note! ASIN is Amazon Standard Identification Number, by searching the ASIN at Amazon instead of the book title, the correct edition should be assured. ASINs that appear here are only guaranteed at Amazon US. Other Amazon markets may use different ASINs.
Amazon, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte, Penguin Classics, Kindle Edition
Amazon, Jane Eyre [Brilliance Edition] [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition] Charlotte Bronte, Narrated by Susan Ericksen