So today the weather finally dipped below 100 degrees here! In fact–it is actually in the 80s, and raining! I can go outside again! Hooray! It also appears my reading and post-RWA writing slumps are done (for now, anyway). I’ve passed the halfway mark on the WIP and am also fiddling around with the 1920s project, and have read not one but TWO wonderful books: the historical mystery The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (a terrific early 1950s British setting and a smart-mouthed “detective” combined with seriously witty writing) and the Restoration romance Libertine’s Kiss by Judith James. (When I finished it, I immediately ran to the email and lured Judith James to the blog–she’ll be here next Tuesday, the 31st, to tell you all more about this fabulous, fabulous book).

And until I got a box of author copies yesterday I forgot I have a September release! Improper Ladies is another re-issue of two of my Signet Regencies, The Golden Feather (a Bookseller’s Best Award winner) and The Rules of Love (a RITA nominee!). Isn’t the cover girl’s hair gorgeous?? (I’m giving away a copy over at my own blog–tell me about your favorite Regency story for a chance to win…)

I also read that on this day in 1847, Charlotte Bronte finished writing Jane Eyre. Like many history junkies, this is one of my all-time favorite books ever, and one I never tire of re-reading. I vividly remember my first encounter with Jane. I was about 9 or 10, and had been long hooked on stuff like The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, and the Betsy-Tacy books, so was always looking for stories with similar settings. (I had also just read my very first Austen, Emma, and was ripe for more 19th century literature). I found a battered paperback copy of Jane Eyre in a box at a garage sale, thought “Yes, I’ve heard of this!” and dragged it home to start reading. I stayed up all night (yes, with a flashlight, hiding under the bed) reading, and was shocked (shocked!!) by Bertha in the attic. I was totally addicted.

My mother then aided and abetted this obsession by finding a VHS tape of the Timothy Dalton Jane Eyre series, which I watched over and over, and I used my allowance to buy as many Victorian novels as I could find at the bookstore. (I tried Wuthering Heights next, but was still too young for it–I didn’t come to appreciate it until much later. But I did like Bleak House and Mill on the Floss, strangely).

There are many, many (many, many, many) versions of Jane Eyre to be found out there. In movies, there’s a silent version from 1915 called The Castle of Thornfield and a 1926 German film called Orphan of Lowood (I haven’t seen it, but have these wonderful visions of JE as Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), a 1963 Mexican feature called El Secreto and a 1972 Indian movie Shanti Nilyam. Here are a few a little closer to home:

1983–Timothy Dalton as Rochester and Zelah Clarke as Jane (still my favorite version, since I saw it first! I love how so much of the dialogue from the book is in place and how true it is to the spirit of the story…)

1997–Ciaran Hinds (Captain Wentworth!) and Samantha Morton (I like this one, but not as much as I thought I would when I first starting watching it)

1996–A Franco Zeffirelli-directed version starring William Hurt and French icon Charlotte Gainsbourg (it’s been so long since I’ve seen this I remember very little about it)

1944–Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine (and a very young Elizabeth Taylor)

2006–Toby Stephens as “Mr. Rochester as hottie” and Ruth Wilson

And one coming soon in 2011, starring Mia Wasikowska (from Alice in Wonderland) as Jane

Plus there are sequels, continuations, inspired-by books, Jane as paranormal hero, muscials, operas, etc etc….

When did you first read Jane Eyre? What’s your favorite of the adaptations? And what good books have you read lately???