'Jane Eyre'- Charlotte Bronte
I first came across the story of 'Jane Eyre' when my teacher in fourth class played us an abridged version of the audio book. The characters and the story stuck in the mind, and when I was in first year I finally read the book.
It tells the story of its title character's life. This begins with her bleak childhood, spent unwanted in the house of her cruel aunt and cousins, and then mistreated in the grim Lowood school. It's only when Jane moves onto her life as a governess at Thornfield Hall, working for the handsome, mysterious Mr Rochester, that she begins to live a happy life. The book continues to reveal the ups and downs of Jane's turbulent life, and looking back, it's no wonder it became my favourite book.
It was the first classic novel I'd ever read. In primary school, I read a lot of fantasy books; any books set in the 'real world' that I read were probably by Jacqueline Wilson or Cathy Cassidy. This was different. The characters were real, flawed people. The plot was intricate, dark and intriguing, and contained pretty complex themes of morality, feminism, religion, and love. These being subjects that hadn't really come up in the books I was used to at that point.
Jane changes and develops so much throughout the book, and even though I wouldn't say that I necessarily related to her as a character, she always felt real.
When I told my mum I was reading 'Jane Eyre', she went through her bookshelf until she found a small brown hardback book, with golden gilt borders around the cover, and extremely thin, translucent pages.
Her dad (who, although I unfortunately never met, I know was never seen without a book in his hand) had owned this book, and when my mum moved from Limerick up to Dublin at the age of 17, she asked if she could take it with her, and she's had it since then. Or at least up until it was passed onto me a few years ago.
This copy is now almost always found on my bedside table, and if I ever can't find anything to read, it's always 'Jane Eyre' I turn to.