With more than four hundred pages of extensively expressive sentence structures, this timeless tale will be a fall favorite. Grab a throw. Find a comfy chair, and become enraptured in the romance and mystery shrouding this piece of British literature. More than a century and a half have passed since author Charlotte Bronte introduced readers to the plain Jane of Jane Eyre, and yet, as her life story unfolds, readers realize there is much to unpack in this passionate pillar of a person.As the book opens, the orphaned Jane is living at Gateshead with three harassing cousins and an aunt who despises Jane. After Jane's parents died, her maternal uncle adopted her. Then upon his death bed, he made his wife promise to care for Jane. But the cold-hearted Mrs. Reed constantly belittles Jane while indulging her own children. "What her aunt did was criminal. There was emotional, physical, even spiritual abuse. It was horrific," commented one reader in our club.Eventually, Jane moves to Lowood Institution, a charity school for poor and orphaned girls. Imagine a dank, clammy room with rows of metal bed frames and wearily thin mattresses. The food is cold. The dresses are paperish. And the fires rarely remain lit. Of the 80 pupils at Lowood, the head master singled out Jane as a troublemaker. He received his information from the miserably cruel aunt. Finally, although short-lived, there are a few glimpses of goodness in Jane's life at Lowood. She is befriended by a sweet natured girl, Helen, who seems wise beyond her years. Helen encourages Jane to turn the other cheek, to see the glass half-full, to take full advantage of the opportunity for education. The superintendent of the school, Miss Temple, gives readers another reason to hope. She extends a hand of compassion and offers Jane a worthy maternal figure. Just as readers are exhaling and beginning to settle into the story, tragedy strikes. A typhus epidemic claims the life of Helen. She dies in Jane's arms.Our book club viewed Jane's growth at Lowood as a time of extraordinary refinement. The harshness softens. Jane's personality blossoms, and she readily owns her education. Even as a destitute orphan, Jane refuses to play the victim card. Our group decided that Jane's early years molded her into a confident, independent woman. She spoke her mind with poise and certainty. During its initial printing, Jane Eyre was labeled quite the feminist. In the late 1800s, the book was viewed as scandalous!And then ⦠the love story!A governess job leads Jane to the mansion of the well-to-do Mr. Rochester, a man twice her age. Mr. Rochester is guardian for ten-year old Adele, the orphan child of an Italian dancer with whom Mr. Rochester was said to be intimate. Jane assumes her duties at Thornfield Hall. Steam painfully rises from the pages as Jane and Mr. Rochester play a romantic game of cat and mouse. These chapters are sprinkled with surprise as Jane is haunted by puzzling dreams, or were they actual events? Mr. Rochester's bed is set afire. Jane nearly drowns her employer while attempting to save his life."The company that stayed for weeks at the mansion was an interesting storyline. I thought it was humorous that Mr. Rochester pretended to be in love with one of the snobby upperclass ladies," offered one reader.When a wedding seems imminent and the nuptial time arrives, Jane is shocked to learn Mr. Rochester's secret. It's a secret at Thornfield Hall that will force Jane to choose between happiness and righteousness."My favorite part of the book was when she found her cousins. There was such a sisterly love between the three of them. It was a familial love that Jane had longed for and then finally embraced. To me, that was God's providence leading her to them before the redemption at the end of the story," summarized another reader.Although she leaves Mr. Rochester, readers are encouraged to hang on to the bitter end. A lot of life's painful moments combine to leave characters stronger, more compassionate, and certainly more appreciative than when they initially appeared in Bronte's novel.Historians claim that when the author first met with publishers in the 1800s, she was advised to stick with womanly duties and not pursue writing. As a recipient of her written gifts generations later, our book club was grateful to Ms. Bronte for adding writing to that list of womanly duties.