My Jane Eyre has come home

When I was 8 or 9 years old my mother gave me a simplifed version of Jane Eyre to read and I was instantly hooked on the story. It has remained a favourite book of mine since. In fact, I had two simplifed Jane Eyre versions. I remember with one liking the text more and with the other I loved the images. The cover of the one version was this dark pink and it had some drawn illustrations. The other version was the quicker read and it had pictures in them of what I thought then was a movie, but I later found out was a 1973 BBC TV mini series. I would read the pink book and then study the photos in the TV version book I had and read some passages there too and I would do that endlessly.

I cherished my two Jane Eyres and they moved with me from Israel to Germany when I was 10. In the 6 years that I lived in Germany we moved three times. I think that during one of those moves (I’m guessing the last one) I couldn’t find the books anymore but there were lots of boxes with books in storage in the cellar of my dad’s office at the time. I vaguely remember going through those boxes, looking for my Jane Eyres but not being able to find them. I always figured they’d turn up in time but they never did.

At 16 I went to a boarding school in The Netherlands (so didn’t take much stuff with me) and then at 18 we moved into a house in Leiden (NL) and all my stuff from Germany was moved to The Netherlands. Those boxes of books came too. It was all unpacked but my Jane Eyres weren’t there. I have scoured bookshelves at my parents’ house and later at my siblings’ places but those books were nowhere to be found. It was around then (at about 18 or 19) when I first read the full Charlotte Brontë story of Jane Eyre. I can still remember lying in my bed in my attic room reading it and falling in love with it all over again.

Every time I went into a second-hand book store, I’d check to see if one of my simplified Jane Eyre books was available but I never had any luck. Then the internet came and I searched especially for the one with those BBC pictures in it. Try finding a simplified Jane Eyre book online and see how many versions you can find. I can tell you from experience there are hundreds!

A few years ago I thought I’d finally found it. I had found out that it had been published by Longman in 1976, I had an ISBN number and the bookseller’s front cover image indicated it was the version with those BBC images in it. When the book arrived, however, it turned out to be a different edition. The ISBN number was indeed the same but the publication year was different, it was not my version and it didn’t have any pictures. I gave up on searching for a long time after that.

Then, a few weeks ago, I was looking for that Ronald Colman biography and found a second-hand book site called Abe Books. I thought, what the heck, I’ll try looking for my Jane Eyre again and lo and behold, I found it! It was available from a bookstore in Germany. I ordered it, hoping I wouldn’t be disappointed yet again, and today it arrived. I tore the envelope open and there she was, just as I remembered: Sorcha Cusack (older sister of Sinéad Cusack, by the way, who played Mrs Thornton in North and South) as Jane Eyre on the cover…

Yes, this is my Jane Eyre! It even looked as pre-used and loved as my own edition had been. I just can’t tell you how stoked I am: this is the end of an approximately 35 year search! I leafed through the book and the images and even after all these years, they all felt so extremely familiar.

I remember back in 1995 when I fell in love with Colin Firth as Mr Darcy in that year’s BBC production of Pride and Prejudice

… he reminded me of an image of Mr Rochester in my old Jane Eyre book. Of course, I didn’t have the book handy at the time to compare but now that I see this image, I can completely see again why I made that association. The comparison really wasn’t so far-fetched…

I saw this 1973 BBC series some 10 or 15 years ago for the first time and Michael Jayston (who plays Edward Rochester in it) didn’t remind me of Colin at all. He seemed lighter, a little more fair haired then I remembered from the book. I took screenshots of images that I thought might correspond with the images I still had in my head of my book, but they never seemed right. Now I understand why. The image in the book is in black and white, making Edward Rochester seem darker, and is also from a slightly different angle which makes me think this is a stills photograph and not so much a screenshot from the actual series.

I think this evening I may read through bits of that simplified text again, see what I think of it now. I also think that I may start the search for that other simplified Jane Eyre book that I remember, although I do have less details to go on as I don’t have film images or anything that can roughly date that book for me. So far the search terms “Jane Eyre” and “simplified” and “pink cover” have done nothing for me. No matter, I have at least got this one ‘back’ – my Jane Eyre has come home to me.

Preoccupations of late

It feels like I have posted so little of late but when I look at what I posted this past January, I’ve not been as quiet as I thought I’d been. With so many things that cross my path (or my screen) I so often find myself thinking, “ooh, I could blog about this”! Recently, however, it has felt like I’ve been considering blogging less and less and I’m not sure why. It’s not like I’m more busy than usual, I’m not in one of my binge-phases and I’m not even feeling more low than usual (which does tend to happen to me in winter). I just have little to say of late, it seems.

This afternoon it came to me that I had not written anything new on my blog in close to two weeks (the two last posts were celebration posts I had written in advance and had scheduled for publication) and that feels long ago. So, today, to get back into the swing of things, here are a few things that have been preoccupying me of late:

  • Last weekend Mr E and I went away to a hotel in the woods in the east near the German border (and we also visited the town of Kleve in Germany) to celebrate our 30 years of being together. There were of course Covid restrictions to adhere to and we kept our distance everywhere, so it was all good. Even though it wasn’t far, it was lovely to be away for a few days, just the two of us.
  • I am getting to that age where the first friends of my generation are becoming grandmothers! My good friend’s daughter, in her early 20s, just gave birth to a baby daughter the other day. I’m really stoked and will go shopping for a little gift to send to the USA tomorrow morning.
  • Only two more weeks to go and then I can start in my new job! It’ll be 50% in the new job / 50% in my old job for the first few weeks but I’m so looking forward to that! I have just about zero motivation left in my current job and am happy that I can slowly let go of things and say “count me out for that!”
  • Mini me has started entry exams for two applied sciences universities. She has a very specific area of study that she wants to do and there aren’t many spots open in the field but she’s giving it a shot. If she doesn’t get in, she can always do a longer route to get where she wants to end up but of course we’re hoping for the shorter and specific route. Fingers crossed!
  • My main actor squeeze Richard Armitage has more new voice work coming up. Yeah, I won’t be hearing that as audiobooks and I just don’t go together well. One of the new projects is apparently also his voicing of the baddie in a game called Warhammer. I’d never heard of that game before and when I asked Junior he said he knew of the game but had never played it. As I was walking through a shop in Germany this past weekend, I saw this. Apparently that game is a pretty big deal!
  • I am avoiding the news a lot recently. Boris Johnson, Covid nonsense, the scariness of the Russia – Ukraine situation are so frustrating and there is nothing I can do about that. So, I choose to switch off the news and just stick to reading a digest now and again to stay in the loop a bit.
  • I’m reading a book on my e-reader right now called What Makes a Marriage Last : 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets to a Happy Life by Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue (I’ve heard of them before but they are no big names over here). I’m reading the book because some of the couples they interviewed really intrigued me and, being in a long-term relationship myself, the subject also intrigued me.

    I could do with a little less of Marlo and Phil inserting themselves and their situations in the interviews and sometimes I wish for a little more elaboration when something that I feel is important is skipped over. Still, it really is quite an interesting read. Each interview is about 10-15 pages long, so I can read a few at a time and then let it go for a while (I still have about 1/3 of the book to go).

    There are many differences in how married life is shaped for these couples but the common ground does seem to be to stay connected and interested in the other, in allowing the other to be themselves and in communicating and actually liking the other. I can attest to all of that. I keep on thinking about how my own marriage would be portrayed in such a book. Maybe I should write my own chapter sometime.
  • Last but not least, on another personal note: I had a huge post sitting in my drafts for over a month on how annoying my mother can be, illustrated by some examples over Christmas. I finally deleted that post today and decided to celebrate her instead because, despite any annoyances (and I know that I sometimes annoy her too), she really is awesome and I’m glad she’s still around to get annoyed at!

So, yeah, I have been preoccupied with some things. Maybe now I can find my way back to actually wanting to blog about them more.

One more…

I seem to be on a posting spree this past week (this is the 10th post in 8 days!) and even I am getting a little tired of hearing myself talk. Just this one more thing before I head to bed that I need to get off my chest: I made a second video for Bobby (Peter Krause) and Athena (Angela Bassett) from 9-1-1. This one’s a joyful one, it certainly cheered me up while I was making it…

Two videos for one show means that this warrants 9-1-1 having its own fan video page in my fan video corner on this blog. 🙂

Speaking of 9-1-1: seeing Peter Krause in action so much recently has also brought me back to his real life partner Lauren Graham again, whom I loved as Lorelai Gilmore on Gilmore Girls.

It reminded me that I have been meaning to read her book of biographical essays that she published a few years ago called Talking As Fast As I Can (which is what she did on Gilmore Girls – that show had really fast paced dialogue). I figured I’d put it on my Christmas wish list but then when I saw the e-book for only €2,-, I couldn’t resist and went ahead and bought it…

I haven’t touched my e-reader in eons, so needed to charge it first but I’m all set now. It’s just after midnight as I hit publish, I never really sleep before one am, so just enough time to jump into bed and get started! It feels good to find the motivation to read something again, I hope I like it enough to stick with it.

A witch for an evening…

Do something with witches, Herba encouraged in the latest Mach’ Was challenge. Two things spring to mind when I think of witches.

The first thing that springs to mind is one of my favourite children’s books that I used to read to my own children when they were small. It’s called Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Here’s a lovely reading of that book on YouTube…

For my kids I always read the Dutch version…

It’s the story about a witch who picks up and helps some animals and lets them travel with her on her broom. When she in turn is in danger her new friends all help her. The kids loved that book, as did I. The text had a great rhythm to it and was clever which made it so much fun to read and we loved the illustrations too.

The second thing I think of when I hear the word ‘witch’ is that time 13 years ago when I was a witch for an evening. I had decided with a friend of ours that we should celebrate Halloween at our house for once. It is not a holiday that is normally celebrated here so we thought it would be fun to try it out. The kids dressed up as a vampire and a cat respectively and my friend and I dressed up as witches…

As witches and a vampire and a cat we tried our hand at carving a pumpkin…

That was harder work than we had ever thought. The end result was quite nice but it was the first and the last time I have ever carved one…

We played games, like the typical Dutch party game ”koekhappen” (take a bite out of a dangling piece of cake, in this case a donut, with your hands tucked behind your back) or the kids tackling Mr E as they liked to do every evening after dinner until they became too big and strong. Mr Esther is never one for dressing up but he did sport a fancy embroidered kippah we have and briefly also borrowed mini me’s cat ears…

As a witch, I did my best to stir my witch’s dinner brew in a cauldron…

And yes, at one point in the evening witch Esther also read the Room on the Broom book to the kids…

… which makes this post come full circle!

We never did such a Halloween celebration again, the kids had a few Halloween parties at daycare for a few years and that was enough. I do remember this one occasion and that book very fondly, though. Should I ever dress up for Halloween again, it will always be as a witch.

Goodbye 2020

Ending this endless downer of year on a good note with watching Uncle Vanya again on BBC Four last night…

As I’ve already seen this twice in the theatre and once in the cinema not long ago, I admit to now and again simultaneously also reading on my new e-reader that I’ve fallen in love with. I’m reading the Bridgerton series right now and late last night finished book 3, book 4 is up next.

I did record Uncle Vanya so that I can view it again and again if I choose to. 🙂

I’m not feeling particularly reflective today, so just looking ahead to the new year and a promise for better times. We’re ready here for the evening with the traditional Dutch ‘oliebollen‘ and ‘appelbeignets‘…

I hope you all have a nice New Year’s Eve!