Monday 15 October 2007

Cinderella DOES go to the ball?!

I've always assumed there are some books which one knows psychically.

Well, obviously that's nonsense, but there are all sorts of books which I don't remember having explained to me, but which I knew about, down to most of the plot twists. I'm not just talking boy-gets-girl, I'm talking Jane-Eyre-Madwoman-in-Attic. It would never have occurred to me to put a *SPOILER* warning in front of that, as I might if I were revealing climactic moments of more obscure literature. Sorry if I've spoilt the novel for you... I rather assume that m
ost of my readership know about old Bertha, even if they haven't waded through Gilbert & Gubar. I didn't read Jane Eyre until I was 17 or thereabouts - but I knew the whole plot without, as far as I'm aware, having heard or seen any adaptations. So it was fun, but it wasn't surprising.

Writing yesterday about the Queen's (fictitious) introduction to literature made me think about my friend Mel. She is a very, very dear friend, and hopefully won't mind me writing about her (!) Though a bright lass, she's not as book-obsessed as I am, and some of the classics are still unread for her. That makes it sound like I'v
e read the lot, which is incredibly far from being the case, but Mel still had The Big Three to read. The Big Three are not books I consider to be the best in the world, nor to have a huge amount in common, it's just I've never met anyone who liked one of them without loving the others too. What are they, you ask? Jane Eyre, Rebecca and I Capture the Castle. She's now done all three, and loved them - but the reason I write about it is because she didn't know what would happen next! I had great fun hearing updates on Jane Eyre, with surmises and surprises along the way - what would be in the attic? A deformed son? And they were getting married but half the book seemed to be left - what could go wrong?? What a treat it must be to have a completely fresh introduction to such a classic.

So, any books you've done this with?
Shocked to learn that Elizabeth gets over her prejudice? Astounded that Scrooge turned out not too bad? The nearest I've got is with Rebecca - I knew most of the plot beforehand, but not one important twist. My biggest gasp-out-loud moment came in To The Lighthouse, but I think a fair percentage of you may not have read TTL yet. YET, I say...

Oh, and as an aside - do you, or anyone you know, break my Big Three declaration?!


  1. Hi, Simon...I've been lurking about for several months, and felt I would finally post in response to your Big Three question.

    I do love I Capture the Castle and Rebecca (having read them both countless times), but I'm afraid I'm rather lukewarm on Jane Eyre. At one time, in my early teens, I thought it was an absolutely lovely book and read it many, many times, but my feelings seem to have cooled since then. I have no idea why.

    I do enjoy your blog -- it gives me such pleasure.

  2. I loved both Jane Eyre and I Capture the Castle, but have to admit to not having read Rebecca. I'm not sure why, except because I already know what happens!

  3. I love all three books. I thought I knew the story of Frankenstein - until I read the book that is!

  4. I too loved Jane Eyre and I Capture the Castle but have yet to read Rebecca. Shameful for a Cornish person. I think I've seen the film but can't remember the twist to be honest.

    And yes... To the Lighthouse... there's a twist? I'm finding the book hard going but I shall persevere.

  5. Before going to a Shakespeare play, Bernard Levin liked to re-read the text. On one occasion, I think before Love's Labour's Lost, he began to read....and realised that he had never read a word of the play before. He therefore closed his copy and went that evening to the theatre knowing that he was about to see a Shakespeare play ABOUT WHICH HE KNEW NOT A SINGLE WORD in advance. What bliss.

  6. Right so having been internationally exposed as an ignoramous (thanks dear), maybe I'll put in my piece.
    After Simon told me, aghast, that *everyone* knows what happens in Jane Eyre, I didn't believe him and decided to conduct a small survey.
    Yeah, everyone knows what happens in Jane Eyre.
    Oh well. To be honest though, I wasn't terribly surprised that it all ended happily. Rebecca and I Capture the Castle, on the other hand, are much less predictable and I'm very glad I didn't know what happens in them. I don't think you could actually read Rebecca the way it's supposed to be read if you knew all along what was really going on - there's no way you could participate in all those emotions and I think that would be a shame cos it's so utterly brilliantly written. Maybe I'll read it again with the Knowledge and see what difference it makes.

  7. I've managed to read only half of each of Jane Eyre and I Capture The Castle, and haven't even started on Rebecca. I'd like to try and get through ICTC again at some point, but Jane Eyre holds bad memories for me.

    Admittedly, this may be because I was trying to plough through it, determined to "read the classics", and was trying to force myself to be interested...

  8. Of course, Simon, your belief that 'everyone knows what happens in Jane Eyre' did mean you mentioned whatshisname's blindness to me when I was only half-way through the book, and therefore spoilt more or less the only thing of note I didn't already know. Oh, apart from all that nonsense about her cousin, which is pretty forgettable anyhow.

  9. Heya Laura - thanks for coming out of lurkdom and commenting! Always lovely to hear from people, and glad you've enjoyed the site. I'm with you, actually - I really like Jane Eyre, but not as much as the other two novels.

    And for Tara and Cath - you have a guaranteed treat ahead of you in Rebecca!

  10. I must, shamefacedly, admit to not having read any of these. Although, I am a big fan of the movie of I Capture the Castle. I also picked up a copy of the book in a recent booksale. I suppose this post indicates I must expedite it to the top of my TBR pile.

    I will consider Rebecca and Jane Eyre some time in the future

  11. CWPb1S Your blog is great. Articles is interesting!

  12. Gu5BPG Please write anything else!

  13. actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.


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