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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (Penguin, £6.99)The Wall Street Journal asks Samantha Ellis to share her favourite novels about spinsters. She connects a couple of them to Jane Eyre.
Almost the perfect prototype as a woman’s novel. Jane is a poor orphaned child but she’s not a victim. She eventually becomes a governess and the romance starts with Mr Rochester, the archetypal sexy hero. Then you get the drama of his mad wife. The passion is extraordinary. I try to read it once a year. (Caroline Rees)
South RidingSomewhat belatedly given that the Valentine's Day rush is over and done with, but LifeHacker (India) has selected 'Top 10 Romantic Books That Inspire You To Fall In Love' and one of them is
By Winifred Holtby (1936)
4. ‘I was born to be a spinster, and by God, I’m going to spin” is the mantra of Sarah Burton, who moves to Yorkshire determined to dedicate herself to her new job as the progressive headmistress of a girls’ school. Of course it doesn’t quite work out that way. Holtby throws brooding local landowner Robert Carne into Sarah’s path, and heartache ensues. This big, bold book riffs on “Jane Eyre” (Robert even has a mad wife), but it is painted on a much bigger canvas than Charlotte Brontë’s novel; Sarah has come to Yorkshire with an agenda. “I want my girls to know they can do anything,” she says, as she encourages Lydia Holly, a clever girl from the slums, to pursue her ambitions, and Sarah finds her own mentor in inspiring, invincible Mrs. Beddows, the first female alderman on the local council, who shows her that there are many ways to live passionately, that she can become an altruist and an activist and make the world a better place. The novel works toward her realization that “we are not only single individuals, each face to face with eternity and our separate spirits; we are members one of another.”
By Barbara Pym (1952)
5. Pym is often called the patron saint of spinsters, and this novel is full of them. Its wry, mordant heroine, Mildred Lathbury, warns the reader early on, “I am not at all like Jane Eyre, who must have given hope to so many plain women who tell their stories in the first person.” Her life in grimy, postwar Britain is drab, and her prospects are bleak. She ekes out tins of baked beans over meal after meal, wears ugly but serviceable clothes and sometimes stays up late at night ravenously reading tips on stain removal. She notices everything; the novel hums with her sour, hilarious social commentary. And she thinks hard about what makes “a full life”; does it have to involve romance? And why do men reject “excellent women” like her in favor of feckless, debonair women who don’t know how to wash lettuce? Mildred flirts with the idea of change—even, wildly, buying a new lipstick called Hawaiian Fire—but she isn’t sure she wants it. After one exciting evening, she reflects: “Love was rather a terrible thing. . . . Not perhaps my cup of tea.”
Jane EyreRedbrick interviews singer Rae Morris:
'Jane Eyre' by English novelist Charlotte Brontë explores the emotions and experiences of the protagonist and her love for her employer Mr. Edward Rochester of the fictitious Thornfield Hall. Her reunion with her beloved is sure to bring tears of joy. There is a film adaptation of the novel. (Surela Mukherjee)
Bit of a cliché question, but who are the main artists that have inspired you? Mostly female singers and songwriters. I’d not really heard female voices being used in a certain way before with power; Joanna Newsom is one of my favourites and I was so confused by her music but in a really “I can’t believe this is happening” way when I first heard it. Then there’s Kate Bush, Wuthering Heights etc.Wuthering Heights has also made it onto number 48 of The Sunday Times' list of 'books to change your life'.
As she says this, Rae notices that my notebook is Wuthering Heights themed and pointed out her love for it…I saw that, it’s amazing. You know, I’ve not actually read Wuthering Heights but I’m so bad at reading, it just takes me ages. I’ve just got one of those minds that doesn’t concentrate very well. I’ve been reading a book called The Fountain Head, it’s incredible and like *that big* [Rae visualises the book. It’s pretty chunky by the sounds of it]. And I’m *that* far away from the end [a significantly smaller wedge is now reciprocated] but it's taking me weeks. (Dean Eastmond)
So now that we have Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harper Lee, and Dr. Seuss, who’s [sic] secret, lost manuscript will be unearthed next? Shakespeare? Hemingway? I’m pushing for Zora Neale Hurston’s or Emily Brontë’s never-before-seen sequel to Wuthering Heights. Hey ,maybe we can find that elusive first edition of The Iliad. (Caitlin White)This columnist from El Subjetivo (Spain) argues that she doesn't want Christian Grey.
Mujeres como Cleopatra, Juana de Arco, Hipatia de Alejandría, Olympe de Gourges, Marie Curie, Emily Brontë y Coco Chanel, lograron cada una en su época revolucionar el mundo y demostrar la importancia y capacidad en diferentes circunstancias que tiene el género femenino. (Kelly Jhoana Mejía) (Translation)The New York Times features Marc Jacobs's latest collection:
Then he dropped the skirts long, à la Jane Eyre, and topped them with sequin-hemmed capes; tailored it down to a militaristic jersey shell skirt suit decorated with metal grommets; brought in dull plaids and voluminous mohair-striped sleeves, rose-print satins and sequin-swirled columns; and ended in body-skimming plunge-neck crepes studded with nailheads like so many stars. (Vanessa Friedman)The Blog of Amangela compares Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights; Films Classiques reviews Wuthering Heights (in French); You, and Me, and a Cup of Tea posts about Wuthering Heights.