Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is the first adult novel I ever read. I remember the moment when I was thirteen and found it on the school library bookshelf, and I remember how grown-up I felt reading it.
In my $1 edition I bought at a flea market, I searched today for the pages at the centre of the novel, where I was surprised to find Jane and Rochester falling in love; this then is the turning point.
It’s a huge problem for her; he is anything but available. Jane feels now, at 19 years old, as though she has mastered life. But the second half of the story from here on will reveal that she stands not on a rock of love but on quicksand, while above her, hidden in the attic, is his mad wife:
“A sneer, however, whether covert or open, had now no longer that power over me it once possessed: as I sat between my cousins, I was surprised to find how easy I felt under the total neglect of the one and the semi-sarcastic attentions of the other – Eliza did not mortify, nor Georgiana ruffle me. The fact was, I had other things to think about; within the last few months feelings had been stirred in me so much more potent than any they could raise – pains and pleasures so much more acute and exquisite had been excited than any it was in their power to inflict or bestow – that their airs gave me no concern either for good or bad.”