“The cinema is showing Jane Eyre,” says Imogen, her voice full of longing.
“Would you and Charlotte like to see it?” I ask.
A big smile spreads across Imogen’s face as she answers, “Yes, please!”
“You could come with us!” adds Charlotte.
I look at the girls’ eager faces. They really want me to go along and I think, “Why not?”
I’ve only seen two movies on the big screen in 19 years. I used to be the willing volunteer who stayed home with the baby or toddler while the rest of the family headed out to the cinema. Then later, I just got out of the habit of movie watching.
So I am off on an adventure, off out on a mother-daughters outing.
In the car on our way to the cinema, we discuss Jane Eyre. Imogen and I have both read the book, but Charlotte hasn’t. I wonder whether she will like the movie. She is a discerning and sensitive viewer. Not many movies make it to her approved list. Will the cruelty that Jane suffers as a child make her feel unsettled inside?
I think back to my own childhood when I first read Jane Eyre. I remember how my heart ached as I shared the young Jane’s story, the cruelty she suffered at the hands of her aunt and the adults at the school. How could anyone treat a child so unjustly? And I cried. I cried not only for the fictional Jane, but for all defenceless children who are subjected to injustices as they grow up, myself included.
I wonder: will I cry during the movie? Will Charlotte? We check our pockets for tissues before leaving the car and then we head into the cinema.
We buy tickets and popcorn and ice cream and juice. The girls’ eyes open wide as I hand over the unaccustomed treats. We stream through the theatre door with… just 8 other viewers (all female)… no problem finding a good seat. The lights are dimmed, the screen comes alive and we whizz back in time. For two hours we are absorbed in Jane’s story.
Later on the way home:
“Did you enjoy the movie, Charlotte?”
“Yes!” she replies emphatically. Jane Eyre has her seal of approval.
“The scenery was breath-taking. What did you think of the costumes?”
“The dresses were totally different to those in Pride and Prejudice although the two novels were set quite close in time. And the house… the sets were spectacular. Very atmospheric.”
“Did you notice the painting of Queen Henrietta Maria on the wall in Rochester’s house?”
“And that painting of the man standing grandly… I’ve seen that one before.”
“The actress who played Jane Eyre was a bit solemn, don’t you think? But then again, I don’t suppose there was a lot in Jane’s life to smile about…”
“The music…Did you like the music? I thought it was stirring.”
I ask Charlotte if she wants to read Jane Eyre and she nods enthusiastically but adds, “After Vilette. Immy and I are reading Villette out loud together.” And then we talk about Charlotte Bronte’s other novels, and those of her sisters, Anne and Emily. Somehow I think we are embarking on a Bronte phase.
I look at my Bronte-girl daughters. I am delighted they are so passionate about these classic stories. But I am even more thrilled that the books are providing us with so many enjoyable mother-daughter moments.