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Isy Suttie on why Jane Eyre is her literary heroine


Amy Davies - March 5th, 2016

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Isy Suttie

Ahead of International Women’s Day on 8th March we are teaming up with our friends over on One Book Lane and the Gollancz blog to celebrate our #WonderWomen, the literary heroines who have inspired us. Here, author and comedian Isy Suttie tells us why Jane Eyre is her inspiration.

I came a bit late to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, my only previous experience of the Brontes entailing an amateur production of Wuthering Heights at school where Catherine repeatedly pronounced Heathcliff’s name like that of the cartoon cat. “I’ve covered the Brontes – now to tackle The Iliad!”, I’d ignorantly think to myself.

How wrong I was. I read Jane Eyre recently, and just fell in love with the character. Not because she’s especially daring or damaged, but because she seems so ordinary. She’s constantly described as ‘plain’, which is far more interesting than a character being beautiful, and her true grit – which she possesses in abundance – is drizzled through a character that seems so simple, neat and quiet.

Although I have her Christian name as my middle, I’m not especially like Jane Eyre. She can paint in watercolour, whereas I do cartoons in biro. I don’t tend to sit with my hands folded in my lap – I tend to use them to put Eton mess and port into my mouth. I don’t think I would have been able to stomach holding my dying schoolmate in my arms as a child, or leaving Rochester – the love of my life – because he was already married. The resilience she has is astonishing, yet because reveals itself slowly, you always feel it to be true. In short, it’s inspirational, as is the writing. I think of Jane Eyre when I’m feeling a bit tired and have got lots of work to do, or when my toddler throws her beaker on the floor for the eighteenth time. What, I ask, would Jane Eyre do? Probably paint a watercolour of a skyline and learn French. I crack open the port.

I still haven’t read The Iliad.

Head over toe One Book Lane to read our previous #WonderWomen posts from Fearne Cotton, Kate Williams or over the the Gollancz blog to read a piece from Charlaine Harris

Isy Suttie is the author of The Actual One, out now in hardback, ebook and audio

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