Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre

Stewart Ross, Author, Robert Van Nutt, Author, Robert Van Nutt, Illustrator Viking Children's Books $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-670-87486-6
This text-laden picture-book biography highlights the autobiographical elements in Jane Eyre, the classic English novel. Bronte, contends Ross (Shakespeare and Macbeth), used her traumatic memories of boarding school, her experience as a governess, an unwanted marriage proposal and her failed romance with the married Monsieur Heger as material. Ross often employs the questionable technique of quoting from fiction to illustrate biography: ""When Jane Eyre decides to leave Lowood School and become a governess, she calls it moving to `a new servitude.' This was precisely how Charlotte found her change of situation [becoming a governess]."" He also gives a complete, chapter-long summary of Jane Eyre, which may frustrate readers who have yet to discover it for themselves. Van Nutt (The Firebird) bases his images of Charlotte and her sisters on Branwell Bronte's famous painting, and his palette stays with the brown, beige and olive colors that convey the somberness of the times. His scenes from Jane Eyre are infused with appropriately dark, emotional drama. Boxed sidebars explain aspects of Victorian life, and a short afterword discusses Elizabeth Gaskell's famous biography. A bibliography and chronology are provided for reference. Despite its faults, the book is thorough and provocative, making it a strong choice for classroom use. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Children's
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