The mad woman in an attic who inspired Jane Eyre

Monday 18 August 2014

For me, it's the perfect women's novel; the tale of a poor orphan despised and bullied by her rich relations and then sent away to an horrific charity school for parentless girls.

With all the odds stacked against her, Jane triumphs and as a young woman becomes governess to a little French girl at Thornfield House, home of the mysterious Mr Rochester. He falls for Jane, proposes and at the altar is dramatically unmasked as a bigamist. He already has a (mad) wife living secretly in an attic at Thornfield.

After a long separation and many trials and tribulations, Jane and Rochester are finally reunited, he now blind because of injuries he received when his wife set fire to the house. The good news is she dies in the fire, leaving Rochester finally free to be with Jane.

And as we all know, Bronte then penned one of the greatest lines in literature: "Reader, I married him."

Hurrah! Jane Eyre is a wonderful, passionate and deeply sexy novel, all the more so because of its understated nature, adhering to the conventions of the time. I always think the Bronte sisters novels make Jane Austen's seem bloodless, witty though they are.

Read Richard and Judy's Daily Express column in full here.
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