Saturday, September 21, 2019

#BookReview: Charlotte Brontë Before Jane Eyre by Glynnis Fawkes

Historical Graphic Novel
Biographic Fiction

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Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!--I have as much soul as you,--and full as much heart!

Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre is a beloved classic, celebrated today by readers of all ages and revered as a masterwork of literary prowess. But what of the famous writer herself?

Originally published under the pseudonym of Currer Bell, Jane Eyre was born out of a magnificent, vivid imagination, a deep cultivation of skill, and immense personal hardship and tragedy. Charlotte, like her sisters Emily and Anne, was passionate about her work. She sought to cast an empathetic lens on characters often ignored by popular literature of the time, questioning societal assumptions with a sharp intellect and changing forever the landscape of western literature.

With an introduction by Alison Bechdel, Charlotte Brontë before Jane Eyre presents a stunning examination of a woman who battled against the odds to make her voice heard.

I think it fair to say Glynnis Fawkes’ Charlotte Brontë Before Jane Eyre will find an audience in those already familiar with its subject matter. Still, I feel the brilliance of this piece rests in how it introduces its iconic heroine to its target audience.

Younger readers are far less likely to know Charlotte’s story and I liked how Fawkes’ deft approach presents the material while drawing striking parallels to both Brontë’s work and biographic experiences. It’d have been easy for blind hero-worship to overwhelm this piece, but I found the story well-rounded and characterized by a great deal of emotional range.

The timeline skips from here to there, but the story is easy to follow, and it felt complete despite the episodic nature of its structuring. Purists might suffer a certain degree of frustration over the modern flow and cadence of the text, but again, I felt Fawkes made the right choice in choosing a style that invites younger readers into the narrative.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: September 21, 2019

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