As Good As Jane Eyre?

I have had the utter joy, amongst several children’s parties this weekend where I think I had as much fun as the children, in watching the latest film adaptation of ‘Jane Eyre’ which came out in cinemas last year. Adaptations are a tricky beast, in fact Gavin and I were discussing this on The Readers earlier in the week, and I have to say that I think that this latest version of Jane Eyre is utterly superb.

Director Cary Joji Fukunaga manages to perfectly capture the brooding atmosphere (it made me jump a lot), its dark mysterious aspects and secrets and the wonders of the Yorkshire countryside and also the gothic nature of it all. It does help that Michael Fassbender is a little bit brilliant as Mr Rochester and that Judi Dench is superb in it as Mrs Fairfax and most importantly Mia Wasikowska is a very understated, subtle and powerful Jane Eyre too. It might have missed a few set pieces I love from the book but no adaptation can ever be as perfect as the film version in your head can it. It actually made me want to re-read ‘Jane Eyre’ all over again.

I really do love the book so wasn’t expecting much from the film but I do recommend it, I could also do with some recommendations from you. As I mentioned it has made me ponder a re-read of ‘Jane Eyre’, however it is not long since I have read it and there are so many other classics I really should read (I bet a few of you have just muttered ‘Dickens’ or ‘Austen’ under your breath haven’t you?) and I would like to know which you would recommend for when the dark autumnal nights* draw in? They need to have a brooding atmosphere, some mystery and characters that will walk off the page and hold me through a good few hundred pages. I already have ‘Anna Karenina’ and ‘Villette’ as possibilities, do they fit the bill? What else would you recommend?

*I am not wishing the autumnal night upon us by the way, I just won’t be able to start on these until October/November when Green Carnation reading dies down.


Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

30 responses to “As Good As Jane Eyre?

  1. Ooh, Villette is just the thing for autumn nights. It’s not a perfect book, but some parts are. I’d love to read your thoughts! But Anna Karenina is swoonworthy, so. Decisions!

    • I thought I had Villette and I cannot find it anywhere! Most distressing, tut. That said with Classically challenged I do have some wonderful reads ahead and I have just received a wonderful new edition of Madame Bovary which I haven’t read.

      I do want to read Anna Karenina, but have just seen the film so think maybe I should leave it a while.

  2. Yes to both! And it is a bit of a commitment, as it’s such a doorstopper, but ‘War and Peace’ is also excellent autumn/winter reading.

  3. Yay! it’s an awesome films isn’t it? I agree with China Mieville, that Jane Eyre is, in fact, a horror novel – and this film came the closest of the adaptations I’ve seen to capturing those genuinely terrifying aspects of the novel (poverty, madness, loneliness etc.).Great film; sadly under appreciated. Not sure why, but it kinda flew-in under the radar when it was released. Shame.

    • A horror novel, that is an interesting possibility Tom. I haven’t thought of it like that. I guess for me its just highly gothic really, does that fall into horror though in a way?

  4. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte is my favourite “Bronte” book. As romantic as Jane Eyre but not as melodramatic as Wuthering Heights. The action gets going from the very beginning and totally holds your attention. Controversial when it was published, it’s a great Autumn read although somewhat in the shadow of better known Bronte works.
    I loved the Jane Eyre film too, both leading actors were amazing and the atmosphere so brooding. Perfect!

    • Now I do have a copy of that somewhere so maybe that will be my next book to dig out if Villette has well and truly gone missing.

      I am so surprised that this version of Jane Eyre didn’t do better. That said I think the amount of times a lot of the classics have been adapted doesn’t really help, maybe people are bored of them all?

  5. Have you ever tried Mary Stewart? Some of hers might work, like Nine Coaches Waiting or The Ivy Tree.

    Also, not quite what you were asking for, but I can’t resist suggesting these:

    – Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys (telling the story of Bertha, Rochester’s wife)

    – Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair (set in an alternate history version of the 80s, where people can go into books. The main character has to keep a master criminal from changing the plot of Jane Eyre)

    – Jenna Starborn, by Sharon Shinn (aka Jane Eyre in space!)

    • Rosario, I have you to blame for some shopping I did after your comment, that because I am taking forever to get around to things at the moment I am only just telling you about. I bought 8 Mary Stewart novels the other day… for £2, almost brand new at the grocers. They were selling books for ‘any donation to charity’ the man wanted 50p! I couldn’t do that so settled on £2. I haven’t read one yet though hahaha.

  6. Have you read The 13th Tale by Diane Setterfield? It gave me that Jane Eyre feel. I would definitely not put Anna Karenina in that category. Great book, but apples & oranges.

  7. I read Villette recently during a month of re-reading in JUly – it is very good -would be good for those autumn evenings – I think it is harder than Jane Eyre, but well worth the effort. I would also recommend: – any Austen! They are just a joy. Also Wilkie Collins The Moonstone, great for cosy evenings as is Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein.

    • I love Wilkie Collins so you have no need to try and persuade me further on him, every book I have read of his so far has been brilliant. I haven’t read Frankenstein, though I should. In fact if I see that when I am next at the library then I am indeed nabbing it.

  8. Love Anna Karenina but it’s true that it’s not really dark and mysterious. Are you going to watch the new film of that?

    As for books for Autumn, what about Frankenstein or Dracula?

  9. gaskella

    The Dickens I’ve been meaning to read for ages is ‘Our Mutual Friend’ – any book that has a taxidermist called Mr Venus as a character has to be darkly interesting.

  10. I thought this film version was a very good adaptation when I saw it in the cinema. I would recommend Wuthering Heights, or The Tenant of Wildfell Hall too.

  11. Angela

    What about an Emile Zola, such as L’Assommoir, Therese Raquin or La Bette Humaine? They are dark, full of drama, mystery and intrigue with wonderful characters and stories that keep you turning the page. They are not what you could call ‘happy’ novels, but they are so rich and full of life that I find them impossible to put down. Many of his novels have also been made into films, with the latest version of Therese Raquin currently in post-production.

    • Aha, now I have got Therese Raquin from the library, and am thinking of either reading that with Polly of Novel Insights over Christmas or waiting until Classically Challanged II next year when we plan to go european and Zola would be a must then.

      Who is in the new film?

  12. Though I too found favourite sections missing, I loved the film. Having Judi Dench was brilliant and she provided quite a few laughs. Villette is okay though it’s quite different to Jane Eyre. Then again I’m pretty biased in Eyre’s favour.

  13. I recently watched the movie and I have a few problems with it. By cutting or making much shorter the scenes that were altered or removed (the school scenes, Miss Temple, the establishment of her own school) the story was changed from a feminist one to a conventional love story. I didn’t think it was a bad movie, I just felt that it completely missed the point of what Jane Eyre was actually about.

    That said, the scenes between Mr Rochester and Jane Eyre were *fantastic* and exactly how I had visualised them in my head. This movie did inspire me to read the book again and I am just up to the bit where she’s left Thornfield with a broken heart. It’s such a wonderful book!

    • Did you think so Belinda? I thought it still remained very gothic and actually just as feministic because she ends up saving him really when she is a woman of wealth, and she didn’t marry the ‘easy option’ which they kept a strong storyline in its way.

      The book is unbelieveably amazing you are right.

  14. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall!!! Gilbert is my Darcy/Rochester.

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