Sunday, April 11, 2010

Becoming Jane Eyre

It took just a little more than one train trip for me to finish Becoming Jane Eyre, the historical/ literary fiction by Sheila Kohler. It chronicles Charlotte Bronte's life, along with the lives of Anne, Emily, and brother Branwell (why has that name fallen out of fashion for boys?), and interweaves them with the writing of the sisters' respective novels. A Bronte trend seems like the next logical step as the perennial interest in Jane Austen seems to be in a bit of a down cycle. Kohler's book, which got some good reviews, is more serious than the usual fluff, but I'm not sure that someone who isn't a Bronte fan would really enjoy it. I found it interesting to see how the influences for the Brontes novel were tied to their real lives, but only knowing a little bit about the Bronte family biography, I wasn't sure how much of this is true and how much was fictionalized. What this book does best, though, is portray these characters in a way that doesn't seem stuffy or stereotypically 18th century, but that makes their feelings and motivations seem quite relevant and modern.

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