- Narrated by:
- Length: 19 hrs and 10 mins
- Unabridged Audiobook
- Release Date:17/04/2016
- Publisher: Audible Studios
Well, this one is a real departure for me. I’ve never reviewed a book from the “gothic romance” genre before but, after Jane Eyre, well, it might be the first in a long line.
I subscribe to Audible’s daily email which lets you know which title is on special offer every day. Normally I’m not the least bit interested – they rarely do historical fiction or fantasy – but now and again something, usually non-fiction, catches my eye and I’ll give it a go. Jane Eyre was the special offer sometime around June 2017 and it took me 6 months before I even started listening to it as I simply didn’t think it would grab me. Why did I buy it then? Well, as an author, I feel like I should read (or listen to) different genres, especially when it’s a book that’s regarded as a genuine classic such as this one. We’re always learning and trying to grow and improve our craft and you only do that by stepping outside your comfort zone sometimes.
At last, after Christmas, I decided to start listening to Jane Eyre and, well, it starts slowly and rather depressingly too. I was really fearful that, as grim as it began, it wouldn’t really improve much and probably end on a sad note too. But I was drawn in, first of all by Thandie Newton’s sweet voice (she’s perfect for this although I must admit I’ve never seen any of her movies) and then by the strength of Bronte’s writing.
Jane herself is a strong, independent girl/woman and it’s good to see her grow and develop and forge her own place in what was a hard world (northern England around 1800). I have no idea how realistic she is – she certainly seems more forgiving than I would be – but there’s an authenticity to the character thanks, I believe, to the fact the author had a similar profession in real life (governess/teacher).
There’s some excitement, a lot of romance, wonderfully described locations and people, and an overall satisfying storyline, the whole thing told in first-person. I won’t spoil it but, while the ending isn’t as happy as I hoped, it’s certainly not as depressing as I feared. This isn’t The Magus and Bronte didn’t leave the reader bereft the way John Fowles did at the end of his books but, that said, don’t be expecting everything to finish completely joyfully.
Some of the plot stretches belief – the strong Jane leaving her new home in an apparent fit of madness and then pitching up in a insanely lucky place for example – but it IS a work of fiction so just ignore that and enjoy the tale.
I was actually shocked how much I enjoyed this novel. When I finished it I had a David Gemmell fantasy novel to listen to next but I turned it off and downloaded Bronte’s Villette instead, hoping to continue in a similar style to Jane Eyre. The review for that will be another day but, so far, it’s nowhere near as good in my opinion. Maybe it’ll get better.
I’d recommend this audiobook to everyone. The story is great and, as I said, Newton’s reading is fantastic, even if her range of character voices is limited (she only really has three or four variations – sweet Jane, gruff Yorkshire woman, gruff Yorkshire man, stern Mr Rochester). The main problem with the narration is the fact Jane Eyre is described continually as being plain and unattractive yet Newton’s voice is the exact opposite.
Now, I’ll need to save a credit for Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, even if my man-card will be revoked! (Oh, and don’t worry, my own books will continue to be as brutal as ever, honest).
Rating – 5/5