If you haven't read this classic, do. It is the heartwrenching story of an orphaned girl who perseveres despite obstacle after obstacle thrown her way. Her strong, unyielding spirit and innate purity are what makes her one of the best characters in all of literature. Mr. Rochester is not to be missed, either - he'll evoke a strong emotion from you, one way or the other. Highly recommended.
I've read many romance novels, new and old, and this is THE most heart wrenching love story that I have ever read. I used to think that this and Pride and Prejudice were tied, but, over time and a few more readings, I must say that Jane Eyre trumps P&P!
Editions of Jane Eyre are a dime a dozen, but this Norton Critical Edition is valuable for its modern essays by literary critics. While just slightly out of date because it includes few essays from the last 30 years, it is still a worthwhile reference---very thought-provoking.
Since its publication in 1847 "Jane Eyre" has never ceased to be one of the most widely read of English novels. Transmuted by the rare Bronte imagination, the romance of Jane and Rochester takes on a strange and unforgettable atmosphere that lifts it above the level of mere melodrama. But Charlotte Bronte intended more. She portrayed the refusal of a spirited and intelligent woman to accept her appointed place in society with unusual frankness and with a passionate sense of the dignity and needs of her sex. Q. D. Leavis's introduction brings out the revolutionary qualities of the book and its author's creation of something that would 'be true to the experience of the whole woman and...convey a sense of life's springs and undercurrents.'
The highest praise for a book is when you turn the last page and immediately want to go back and read it again. Jane Eyre was that sort of book for me. It's not a large volume, I imagine few books published back then were, but it has everything that I enjoy: it has a strong, intelligent heroine who's not afraid to speak her mind, adventure, romance, mystery and a happy ending. It is written in such a way that wherever the heroine is you feel like you're right there with her, experiencing what she is experiencing, the plot developments are never contrived and flow naturally and the ending, while happy, isn't so happy that it seems unrealistic and fake.
It is my all-time favourite book and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes an unhurried narrative without gratuitous drama and enjoys historical fiction.