In the past few weeks, I was able to finish Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. Both books I really enjoyed reading, and they are quite easy reads. Although I enjoyed them very much, both I had a few issues with.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is a classic gothic novel, that for whatever reason I never read before. The novel follows the life of Jane Eyre from infancy to adulthood, and the troubles she goes through as the years go by. Her aunt is terribly abusive to her, she goes to a school that doesn’t appreciate her, and eventually starts to work as a governess for a man named Rochester, whom she falls in love with. The novel depicts amazing feminist ideals for the time it was written, and I found it quite inspiring for what it had to offer. Bronte writes so eloquently, and is so relatable, that you can’t help but to root for Jane Eyre. Although there were many themes in this novel that I loved, there was one thing I absolutely hated.If you haven’t read Jane Eyre, I would skip the next two paragraph to avoid spoilers.
Towards the middle of the novel, Jane Eyre falls in love with Rochester, and they both eventually tell how they feel. Rochester asks Jane to marry him, and it all seems like it’s going to be a perfect happily ever after for them. Except, it’s not. Jane is then visited in the night by Bertha. Bertha is the Creole woman Rochester has been confining in the attic for years. Not only was he locking her up, Bertha is his wife! What a shocker to poor Jane. (On a side note, I heard this spoiler in a class at university, so I knew it was coming). After Jane finds out about this, she cannot be with Rochester anymore, and decides to leave, and live a life without him. At this point I’m disgusted by Rochester’s actions toward Bertha, but happy Jane left him. But…it doesn’t end up like this. After leaving Rochester for a year, and finally meeting some family members, she decides to go back to Rochester. While finding his old home, she finds it completely burnt and in ruins. She later finds out that Bertha set fire to the house, and threw herself off the house committing suicide. Once she finds out about this, she then decides to marrying Rochester, and then they living happily ever after.
Reader, this is when I became disappointed with the book. For a novel that promotes some wonderful themes about love, family, surviving abuse, and feminism, I did not think it was going to end like this. I was hoping Jane would find another man, and tell her readers that Rochester was an evil man. However, she went back to him as soon as his wife died. It just sounds so gross. The treatment of Bertha is horrendous, and also mentioned in a rather casual tone by Bronte. I feel like Bronte didn’t know how to reconcile the issue of the maltreatment of Bertha, that she decided Bertha will kill herself to let Jane and Rochester be together. I hated this part. From an almost perfect book in my eyes, it was quite a let down. The only woman of colour in this novel is depicted to be “crazy” and is later killed off.
If you are a fan of gothic literature, the classics, and female writers, I would 100% recommend this novel. However, keep in mind that the representation of women of colour is minimal and sometimes horrendous. Since Bertha’s story line was horrible in my eyes, I couldn’t give this novel a 5/5 rating. Instead, I’m giving it a 3.5/5 because it was a good novel except for what I mentioned above.
In regard to Agatha Christie’s A Murder at the Vicarage, I have less of a rant for this novel. The novel centres around the murder of Mr. Potheroe, which happens at the Vicarage in a small town. Everyone in town is a suspect, and one of the main people to help solve it is Miss Marple, an old woman. I particularly loved this book, and how all these men are trying to figure it out, while Miss Marple just rolls her eyes and tells them point blank who she think it is. The novel is funny, and a good mystery. I wasn’t expecting the ending, which is perfect for a mystery. The only thing I really didn’t enjoy about the novel was that it was very slow paced. I feel like it took a quite a few chapters for it to start going. Sure, it needed to develop its style and the characters, but I feel like the stakes could have been higher at the beginning.
For A Murder at the Vicarage, I am giving it a 4/5. I think Christie writes in quite a clever manner, and she can create an unexpected twist. If you like mystery or crime novels, this is a book you need to pick up!