Me an Eyre to the Bronte’s great lit­er­ary realm

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - BOOKS - BOOK THAT CHANGED MY LIFE BROAD­CASTER MARY WIL­SON

bued with the wild coun­try­side they grew up in — the Moors with all the mys­tery of their sur­round­ings and you find it com­ing through in their books.

Jane Eyre was pub­lished un­der the name Cur­rer Bell in 1847. It fol­lows the story of the epony­mous hero and her life. The twists and turns of the Jane Eyre story are re­ally quite com­pelling.

She starts out as this mousy lit­tle girl who is cast out by her aunt, she goes to a hor­ri­ble school but some­how man­ages to blos­som into this very strong woman who makes her own de­ci­sions and choices. We get to see her in­ner dia­logue and go on the jour­ney with her. She finds love even­tu­ally but very much on her own terms — some­thing I think would have been quite chal­leng­ing to so­ci­ety at the time it was writ­ten.

Now I don’t know if I saw all that at 10 years old, but it’s a book I’ve come back to through the years and I’ve un­der­stood the var­i­ous lay­ers of the novel as I’ve got older. I’ve read it maybe three or four times in my life.

I still read avidly. I read fact, ob­vi­ously, for work, and I read fic­tion. I think so­cial me­dia has played havoc with the amount of time we give to read­ing books be­cause we are on­line all the time and I think it has cer­tainly cur­tailed me some­what. But I love fic­tion and would al­ways have a book on the go.

Fic­tion for me is ab­so­lute joy, it’s en­ter­tain­ment. I’m never alone be­cause I al­ways have a book. I love be­ing in the mid­dle of a novel and read­ing a won­der­ful sen­tence and just ap­pre­ci­at­ing the bril­liance of it. More than any­thing it’s an es­cape; an es­cape into some­body’s imag­i­na­tion.

With Jane Eyre, I think it is the me­mory of get­ting that book at that time, at that age. I still have it and it was a won­der­ful gift. It opened the door to me to the Bronte sis­ters. I’ve read all of their work and their own story is fas­ci­nat­ing; grow­ing up in Vic­to­rian Eng­land, and be­com­ing great writ­ers at a time when women were not ac­knowl­edged as writ­ers.

Theirs is a mag­i­cal world and they were truly mag­nif­i­cent.

Mary Wil­son, who presents Driv­e­time on RTE Ra­dio 1, in an in­ter­view with Jonathan de­burca But­ler

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