Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

Raised by her haughty Aunt Reed, Jane Eyre grows up knowing nothing other than a rigid harshness from both her distant relatives and the strict Lowood Charity School. Even through her rough childhood, Jane manages to maintain her integrity and spirit with the secret wish that things can only get better from here.

When she is hired as a governess by the dark and brooding Mr. Rochester, Jane finds her life taking a turn, for the better, worse, or both is unknown. Driven by her inner, unspoken desire for wider and richer love than Victorian society traditionally allowed, Jane must struggle between her own longing and moral standards in an attempt to find the best of both.

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Excuse the heavily influenced Goodreads description, but WOW!

This is my new favorite classic book. Unlike many other classic books in which many chapters go on with nothing actually happening, Jane Eyre is beautifully paced with a well though-out plot and memorable characters.

The beginning was not exactly slow, but a little confusing as to how it fits in with the rest of the story. It makes sense later, it sets up a lot of inner struggle further on in the story.

The writing style made me think very much of Emily Bronte, their tastes in guys was evident. There were also several parts in which I wondered if Dickens had co-authored in several of the brilliant, diabolical scheming scenes.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Violence: 3/10 (there was only maybe three short parts which are very creepy; I wish I could say why, but that would ruin the entire story!)

Language: 1/10

Inappropriateness/Romance: 3/10 (hello! This is a romantic classic, although nothing inappropriate ever actually happens)

Audience: Ages 14 and up, mostly just for the more difficult reading level.

Now excuse me while I go watch the movie……

The Beduin’s Gazelle, by Frances Temple

In the year 1302, in the Middle East, Atiyah and Halima, cousins, have been betrothed since birth. They are nearly old enough to marry; however, Atiyah has been taken by his uncle to the city to learn to study and learn to read. Both are very attached to each other and miss each other very much while he is away.

While Atiyah is away, Halima is lost from the tribe in a sandstorm. The ‘sand sea’ shows no mercy, and her parents give her up as lost. But when Atiyah hears of her disappearance, he sets out to find her along with his French friend, Ettiene. Can Atiyah find Halima before the sheikh of another tribe persuades her to marry him?

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This book seemed a little flaky to me. Atiyah and Halima’s feelings, the author said, were true, but I never felt it. They felt more like two friends, so it is not as much of a romance as you would expect.

While poetic at times, the characters felt distant and everything that happened to them was too brief. For example, Halima does not seem very scared when she is lost, and is found like three paragraphs after she realizes she has been separated from her parents. Atiyah also had a ‘walk on water’ feeling; nothing ever stopped him, and everything just seemed to fall into place for him, including the brief and unexplained ending,

The fact that the sheikh wants to marry Halima does make it a little awkward. He is relatively kind to her, otherwise, and does not force the marriage on her.

Their Islamic beliefs and myths are talked about in the book, which is interesting to hear about, and occurs often throughout the book, just as a side note.

All in all, I felt like the book fell a little short of what it could have been. Maybe it had to do with the fact that the author died the day she finished it, or just in that I didn’t care for the romance-that-wasn’t-a-romance. They never gave the exact age of the two, but I get the impression that they are pretty young.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Violence: 1/10

Language: 0/10 (unless you count references to their gods)

Inappropriateness/Romance: 4/10

Audience: Probably girls, Ages 10 and up