Stephanie Burgis
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splurging on the past
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Today I splurged. I was finished spending money for the month (on myself, that is - I have to keep spending money on groceries regardless...), I really was, and then I saw it:

The new BBC miniseries of Jane Eyre. Out today!

This is the miniseries that, while it showed on British television in late 2006, obsessed every TV-owning woman I know. Now, this would have made me frustrated and impatient to see it no matter what, since Patrick & I don't own a television and I couldn't participate in those conversations, and man, I LOVE historical miniseries! Give me petticoats, dark lighting, clever banter and ominous overtones, and I am a happy, happy viewer.

But more than that, this is Jane Eyre we're talking about. I read that book for the first time when I was eight years old. I'd gone to summer camp for the first time in my life, and my parents sent Jane Eyre with me because it was such a big fat novel that they counted on it to last me through the five days of camp. I read it in one of those gorgeous old hardcover editions with glitter-tipped pages, two columns of (tiny) text on each page, and and a lovely red ribbon to mark my progress. When I look back now on Camp Arbutus, all that I can clearly remember is lying on my stomach on the beach reading Jane Eyre with total astonishment and absorption. I just had no idea that books like that existed. And I loved it.

I read it three more times within the next year, and then about once a year afterwards, for a long time. My mom's best friend taped the last BBC miniseries of it (with Michael Jayston as Mr Rochester) for me when I was about 11, and I watched that constantly, until the tape wore down. (I also read a lot of late-20th-century Gothic romances that tried to capture the same feel but - at least to me - never quite succeeded. I even wrote one of my own, when I was 14.)

The last time I read it was on the bus driving from Heathrow airport up to Leeds, the day I moved to England, four and a half years ago. As the bus drove north toward Yorkshire and Haworth, where the Bront√ęs lived, I looked out my window and saw the burnt-out ruins of a massive old stone mansion high in the hills to my right. Thornfield Hall! I thought.

It was the perfect way to start life in Yorkshire. And I can't wait to enjoy Jane Eyre all over again and turn back (in my head) into that seven-year-old girl filled with wonder, reading as fast as I possibly could to find out what happened...


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