Do you return to the same book again and again? I had been reading Jane Eyre about every four years. The exact same copy that I started with in middle school--even though I now own many, many copies of that book. I underline and I write things in the margins and I look back at what I noticed before. And each time, I brought with me a new perspective and so the book grew and developed with me.
It's now been five or six years since I read it. I'm not reading much these days, so there are plenty of other books I should probably spend my time on. But I'm feeling very much overdue for another reading of this book that has begun to feel like my soul.
What will I bring with me this time?
In middle school, I liked the dark, Gothic elements. In high school, I liked the fairy tale quality. In college, I liked Jane's growth as a person. Whatever age I was and whatever I was learning, I could take with me into this book.
It's funny, maybe now I'm going to really get into the whole Bertha thing. My perspective on Bertha is that she is, figuratively, Jane. She is what Jane would be if she stayed with Rochester at that point in their relationship. That's why Jane had to leave; she couldn't become Bertha. Later, things changed for both Jane and for Rochester and they were able to come together on better, healthier, equal terms. But at that point, Bertha was the thing within Jane that she had to beat and destroy. And I've been really into that concept of beating down things that you know try to destroy you.
And . . . maybe more. We'll see. I don't know, I think this book that is so familiar will be like it's fresh and brand new this time. The book that grows with me.