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Jane Eyre

By: Charlotte Brontë
Narrated by: Thandiwe Newton
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Go Behind the Scenes with Thandiwe Newton

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Editorial review


By Mysia Haight, Audible Editor

REDISCOVER JANE EYRE—A REVOLUTIONARY ICON FOR EVERY GENERATION

I first read Jane Eyre when I was in high school and remember feeling terribly sorry for Jane—for not only what she suffered as a child but also for her ending up married to a damaged man. A few years ago, I stumbled across a piece on Vox, written in honor of Charlotte Brontë's 200th birthday. I was intrigued by Constance Grady's assessment of Jane as "prickly, judgmental, and totally unlikable," and of Brontë's work as "monumental." When I learned that the talented actress Thandiwe Newton performs the Audible Original adaptation, winning an Earphones Award and listener raves, I just had to listen. It was time to rediscover Jane.

Jane Eyre was first published in England in 1847, credited to Currer Bell. That the gifted author Charlotte Brontë felt compelled to use a male pen name to get her work taken seriously speaks volumes about the status of women at the time and the novel’s unconventional heroine. Jane Eyre is fierce, intelligent, and outspoken. She’s passionate but not a beauty—she describes herself as "little" and "plain." She never waivers from what she believes is right, and she respects herself. As a short, not exactly stunning, and quietly strong-minded woman myself, I found Jane refreshingly down-to-earth and relatable. And as a feminist, I found Jane inspiring.

Jane is no stranger to hardship. By the age of 10, she has endured losing her parents, being treated as a burden by her relatives (especially one cruel aunt), and getting sent to Lowood Institution, where the students, poor and orphaned girls, are subjected to cold rooms, meager meals, and harsh punishments. Her struggles only make her stronger—and more outraged by injustices against the poor, the weak, and women. At 18, after two years as a teacher at (the much improved) Lockwood, she seeks work as a governess and accepts a position at Thornfield Hall, teaching and tending to a young French girl, Adèle, the ward of Edward Fairfax Rochester. When Jane first meets her employer, she finds him arrogant. But as they spend time together, she comes to appreciate Rochester’s humor and tenderness. Jane falls in love—hard. Then, strange things start to happen at Thornfield—the sound of chilling laughter through the walls, a mysterious fire, an attack on a houseguest. Rochester is hiding a terrible and terrifying secret. Will Jane wind up hurt and alone once again?

Jane Eyre is a romance, so there’s ultimately a happy ending. But a lot happens for Jane to get there, and it’s complicated and heart-wrenching. It’s a story about love and sacrifice, madness and loss, compromise and forgiveness. It’s also the story of Jane’s awakening—from Jane’s perspective. Brontë wrote her novel in the first-person in a groundbreaking way that’s intimate, emotional, immediate, and deep. What I most loved about Jane Eyre is getting to know Jane, in all her prickliness and vulnerability, and what she thinks—about topics such as class, religion, sexuality, and feminism, as well as her oppressors, her supporters, her friends, and the infuriating, alluring Rochester. Listening to the novel as a woman with a daughter about Jane's age, I found myself marveling at her courage, her conviction, her moral compass, and her remarkable good sense. This time, I didn't feel sorry for Jane—I felt in awe of her.

With its strong heroine, feminist themes, indictment of society’s treatment of the poor and disenfranchised, and priority on self-respect, Jane Eyre speaks powerfully to listeners of every generation, and especially women. Beyond the novel’s complicated romance, Jane’s struggles and survival story will resonate with nearly everyone who’s ever been oppressed, discounted, or underestimated. To quote Newton, whose narration is brilliant, "I think the reason we're so struck by [Jane Eyre] is how Charlotte Brontë manages to relate, expertly, what it means to be a human being ... and that never changes."

Continue reading Mysia's review >

Publisher's summary

Earphones Award Winner (AudioFile Magazine)

"I think the reason we're so struck by [Jane Eyre] is how Charlotte Brontë manages to relate, expertly, what it means to be a human being...and that never changes." (Narrator Thandiwe Newton) 

Following Jane from her childhood as an orphan in Northern England through her experience as a governess at Thornfield Hall, Charlotte Brontë's Gothic classic is an early exploration of women's independence in the mid-19th century and the pervasive societal challenges women had to endure. At Thornfield, Jane meets the complex and mysterious Mr. Rochester, with whom she shares a complicated relationship that ultimately forces her to reconcile the conflicting passions of romantic love and religious piety. Performing the early Victorian novel with great care and respect, actress Thandiwe Newton (Crash, The Pursuit of Happyness) draws out Jane Eyre's intimacy and depth while conveying how truly progressive Brontë was in an era of extreme restraint. 

An Audible for Dogs Pick: Make your dog's day. Cesar Millan shares how audiobooks can make dogs happier and calmer. Learn more.
Public Domain (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Narrator Thandie Newton gives a delightful performance of this beloved classic. She delivers the voice of Jane from childhood to adulthood with elegant conviction, breezing through the dense sentences as if they were part of a contemporary novel." (AudioFile)

"[Thandie Newton’s] taut British diction makes a one-woman play out of the orphan girl’s love story, which starts out with all the young-adult tropes - the poor, good-hearted child abused by the spoiled, wealthy boy and his classist keepers, each distinguished by his or her own idiosyncratic cadence - but progresses into what many consider the prototypical Victorian novel. Written in 1847, not long before the start of the American Civil War, the novel makes repeated comparisons between Jane’s captivity, as an impoverished girl in a rich family’s home, and slavery. Newton’s exasperated and aptly melodramatic delivery of Jane’s accusation that her cruel stepbrother is 'like a slave-driver' is a knowing contemporary wink at this timeless yet dated classic." (The New York Times Book Review)

Featured Article: It Was the Best of Scribes—The Best British Authors


With its esteemed history and bold contemporary scene, Britain lays claim to some of the most exciting literature in audio. With the hundreds of incredible British writers throughout the centuries, a person could devote their whole literary life solely to British authors and still never run out of amazing things to listen to. Whether you're an avid Anglophile or just want to discover the best English novelists for yourself, here’s a list of the best for you to choose from!

What listeners say about Jane Eyre

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Perfect!!

I could not stop listening, even when I should have been asleep. I read Jane Eyre as a teenager and found the story painfully romantic even though extremely tedious. I had mostly forgotten about it, but hearing Rosamund Pike read Pride and Prejudice (another absolutely perfect performance) prompted me to explore other classics that I struggled with in book form.

Thandie Newton enthralled me! I could swear that I too was living the story. She gave this book the timelessness it deserves! I will definitely keep this audiobook set aside for my future daughters and the young women I influence. Jane Eyre herself inspired in me greater self respect and love. What a wonderful character!

DO NOT HESITATE TO PURCHASE THIS BOOK!!
I have listened to quite a few audible books so far and I think this is the first one that had me insatiable. I could not stop listening!!

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Superb Narration of a Fantastic Book!

This is the third version of "Jane Eyre" I have, the other two narrated by Juliet Stevenson and Emma Messenger, and I can say without a doubt in my mind that Thandie Newton makes this the best listen of them all. Her accents are impeccable, her ability to convey drama and emotion is sublime, the fact that she can carry off Jane as a child and then move on to Jane as a young woman is astounding and glorious to listen to.
We're treated to the four separate lives of a truly remarkable literary character: Jane as an easily ruffled and sometimes histrionic child, Jane as a smooth yet lovelorn governess at Thornfield Hall, Jane as a content yet suddenly challenged young woman at Moor House, and finally, Jane in her final life, the life the story has been building to, the life she was destined to lead. And Ms. Newton handles each situation, each character therein with perfect ease and grace.
The only, oh so minor, difficulty I had with her performance was that Mr. Rochester was a tad growly. But then again, the man is a tad growly, a tad crotchety and challenging. But she carried off his bouts of passion, his deadpan humor, his utter earnestness, so very well that I was totally swept away.
Nineteen hours go by quickly if you're utterly absorbed by a fantastic story with a character who has such a brilliant character arc. I was honestly and truly sad to hear those words: "Audible hopes you enjoyed..."
But, boy, was I tremendously satisfied! I can't recommend this version of the inimitable "Jane Eyre" highly enough. Charlotte Bronte had a lot to say, and she said it very, very well!
For more reviews, of all genres, check out AudiobookAccomplice.com

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Thandie Newton is INCREDIBLE!

I am completely blown away by Thandie Newton's performance! There were so many times I had to remind myself who was narrating because here voice changed so seamlessly with each character. What a talent! Not to mention this book is a classic and a superior one at that. Well worth the 19+ hour listen.

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Ms Newton was an Audible Tour de Force!!

I never got around to reading Jane Eyre but I finally decided to listen and I am glad I did. I loved this book immensely and I thought knew the story thanks to PBS - Masterpiece and the like but I found "I know nothing" and now I know all. Ms Newton gave true voice to every character man, woman or child with such skill that I was enthralled. At once I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation while riding an emotional roller coaster to the end of the line with her Jane. She breathed life into a story that could have been tired.
I apologize if I sound like I am gushing but I speak only the truth of my experience with this book and this extraordinary performer. Never a big fan I liked her in films and respected her work. I am now a fan and I look forward to seeing and hearing all of her work in the future.

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A truly Epic performance

I listen to hundreds of books each year, and read even more.

Rarely have I enjoyed a book more. This was not a reading, but a masterful performance.

I have read the book countless times, and listened to several other readings, but listening to this narration was even better than reading it for the first time.

It sounded as if a very talented actress was giving voice to her favorite story of all time, not for money, but for love.

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WONDERFUL NOVEL...FANTASTIC NARRATION!

I thought I was an Emily gal...Wuthering Heights has always been my go-to book for English romanticism. Because I love Wuthering Heights so much, I never read Jane Eyre...until now.

This book is so beautifully written, so deep in its emotions, so raw in its power...I want to start on page 1 and read it again. You know the story: Jane is a badly treated orphan. She rises from this abusive childhood to become an educated and caring young woman who finds true love, only to be dashed in her hopes of marrying him due to a mysterious secret of his past. Jane is forced to forge a new life but her soulmate, Mr. Rochester, is never far from her heart. Eventually, she finds her way back to him. He is now a damaged figure but has never forsaken his love for her.

This novel is beset with hardship but it is romantic and hopeful.

Thandie Newton does a PHENOMENAL job narrating this story. Her characters are clearly delineated, the voicing is pure and easy to understand. She is a treasure as a narrator!

I loved her narration...just as I loved this book!

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Not the Depressing Story Hollywood Tells Us It Is

I had seen the movie with Michael Fassbender in it, having no idea what the book was about. I knew that Charlotte was the sister of Emily Bronte who had written Wuthering Heights. It never interested me either. Mostly because upon reading the truly awful novel Twilight, it was discussed so often.

I still haven’t read Emily Brontes book. I watched a BBC production of it starring Tom Hardy. It was dreary, stupid, cruel and in the end, completely pointless. It’s no wonder a hokey writer like Stephanie Meyer chose the most shallow “classic” of the regency era as Bella’s favorite.

Jane Eyre is nothing of the sort. It’s not even as gloomy and hopeless as various movies or mini series have made it out to be.

Despite any bad in Jane’s life. Despite numerous tragedies, Jane is a force to be reckoned with through out the tale! She’s what every writer should aspire to make of their lead female characters.

She’s bold and independent. Her flaws are endearing but still present. Her love and compassion in the face of many heartless characters brought me to tears multiple times! It’s her choice to love Mr Rochester. Her choice to be the wife he both wants and needs.

The way they tease and trust one another felt true to the successful relationships I’ve personally witnessed. There were trials, all great books have them, but they were overcome with poise and understanding.

This book holds a great deal of hope through out and I wonder if those who produce the live action dramas are just too unwilling to show this, because it’s all owed to God?

The heroine’s reliance on moral and divine conduct is a large plot point and yet most of what I’ve seen never mentions it. If anything they seem to push Jane into rebelling against the ideals of the regency era’s definitions of a Godly woman.

I have to say, I truly didn’t expect to become
so absorbed in this novel. Thandie Newton’s performance is spectacular and well done. I’d listen to her read just about any classic, I think.


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Sensational way to experience Jane Eyre

Having never read this classic before, I was excited to purchase this on Audibles. And I must say: this audiobook went above and beyond my expectations! Thandie Newton was an absolutely phenomenal reader, and brought the characters to life in a vibrant and movie- like manner. This is certainly one of the best if not THE best book I've ever listened to on Audibles. Audibles, keep bringing in wonderful narrators: it makes these classics come to life.

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Newton is a wonderful narrator

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her bring the novel alive. I hope to hear more works read by her.

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Gets even better each time you read it!

Outtanding narration makes this classic even more compelling and addictive! This story is a "must read"!

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