Booknotes: Jane Eyre

UPDATE: April 21, 2017:

It’s Charlotte Brontë’s birthday today so I’m reblogging this from last year.

 

I recently watched the TV movie on the Brontës: ‘To Walk Invisible’. Written and directed by the wonderful Sally Wainwright, it is more faithful to the Gaskell biography version than to any other. This means it shows Branwell, the brother, as the main cause for the loss of their meager family fortunes due to his alcoholism and drug addiction, especially during the last three years of his life. While this was handled with great care to make sure he did not come across as some monster, I wish we had seen more of the sisters than we did of the brother. Read on for more.

indiatopia

jane eyreIn my book circles, the Austen vs Brontës debate has come up often. And, though I’ve come to appreciate Austen’s finer points over time, I have always preferred the Brontës. With the three Brontë sisters, there’s the Charlotte vs Emily debate (Anne, sadly, doesn’t get much airtime). This has been harder. For years, I stuck with Emily because I found ‘Wuthering Heights’ more poetic in terms of language — I never cared for the whole Heathcliff-and-Cathy psychopathology.

That said, I reread ‘Jane Eyre‘ recently and I am now firmly in the Charlotte Brontë camp. This is not just another Gothic romance. If you read it in the context of its times and its author’s life, it is a work of remarkable daring and independence. Jane Eyre is a strong-willed woman who manages to get past her plain looks and poverty and stand up to the…

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International Women’s Day 2017: #BeBoldforChange

Over the past couple of years, I've been highlighting an interesting, lesser-known woman on this particular day. Why? Mostly for the same reason that we mark this particular day: to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women. The 2017 theme for IWD is #BeBoldForChange. So, this year, I'd like to share the story of Noor Inayat Khan -- a bold, badass woman I read about last year. She was also featured on Public Radio International earlier this year as the "Indian spy princess who died fighting the Nazis." She was a Muslim. A refugee. A princess. A guerrilla fighter, trained in bomb-making, sabotage and secret communications. But above all, she was a war hero.

Published: The Symphony of a Future Memory (York Literary Review)

When it is all over, her family will come over from India. Parents and two sisters. Fractal images of your lover, they will tell you she had been a troubled child; you are not to feel responsible for what happened. You will not feel sorry for them because you will be too busy feeling sorry for yourself. Her father will assess you from that distant, universal refuge: a watchful silence. His compact and swarthy frame will be so unlike Kay’s.