One of my all-time favorite books is “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte.
When I was a kid, one of the best things my Mom ever got for me was a library card. We would go often to the small Los Angeles branch on Robertson Blvd. not far from our home.
I still remember the delicious aroma of musty paper. And I recall the pleasurable, leisurely browsing around the aisles and shelves. I would pick out my favorites…Pippi Longstocking, Tod Moran mysteries, Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins.
Back then, library cards were made out of paper…the librarian would photograph the card along with the slip from the pocket in the book on that clunky, funny-sounding machine. And then I would go home with my treasures.
One day, when I was a bit older, my mother took me to the library and told me there was a book that she thought I would like. She asked the librarian where we could find “Jane ‘Eerie.'” The librarian politely corrected her and led us to the shelf where “Jane ‘Air'” could be found.
My Mom was right — I really liked the book. It had everything — a spooky Gothic mansion, a crazy lady in the attic, English moors and countrysides and the gruff but kindly Mr. Rochester.
But most of all, it had Jane. She was quiet and plain and kind…and totally misunderstood by the people in her life, adults and children alike.
She was intelligent, however, and a survivor. She got her education despite the hardships of the orphanage, she learned to play the piano, she found herself a job as a governess.
I could totally identify with her.
There I was, at some awkward adolescent age, reading about a smart female geek who lived during the 1800s.
Everyone lived “happily ever after” at the conclusion, which gave me a bit of hope at the time.
I have read “Jane Eyre” many times since that first time. I still consider it to be a great novel even though I don’t know that I would have the patience to read it again, what with the sugary ending and all.
But no matter…the thing I cherish most about “Jane Eyre” is the memory of my Mom taking me to the library to find a book that she thought I’d really like.
©September 2006 by Phyllis J. Hanniver
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