For several years now, we've had the very unorthodox tradition of spending part of the Jewish high holidays at the beach. Although our commemoration of the holidays is not religious, we are still moved by the personal reflection these holidays encourage.
One of the central metaphors of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is the idea of turning--the turning of one year into the next, the turning away from our pasts and into what we can make of our future, and the turning to our highest selves. David and I chose to focus on this idea during one of our beach days, following the traditional religious practice of offering our apologies and our forgiveness to each other--for hurts we knew about as well as hurts of which we were unaware. We exchanged vows to help each other become our highest selves, but also to be patient with each other as we stumble toward those goals.
|Photography by our son; Sweater knitted by me!|
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When I think about how two people try to balance personal reflection, sometimes-conflicting moralities, and a deep commitment to each other, I can't help but think of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. I read the novel for the first time when I was just about the age of our 12yo son. I was deeply moved by the shy and plain Jane who fought her passionate self in order to do what she felt was right, no matter what others thought of her. So much of my personality--a shy but bull-headed woman who is definitely overly moralistic, fiercely outspoken with the people she loves most, and usually non-confrontational and polite to strangers--is a mirror image of what I saw in Jane Eyre. I have no idea if I loved the novel because I saw in Jane much of what I saw in myself, or if I loved the book so much that I made myself in Jane's image.
My husband did me the very great honor of reading Jane Eyre this year (after resisting my almost constant badgering for almost twenty years). He loved it--and saw much in it that I had not seen in my many, many rereadings. I've loved getting to talk more about this book I have loved so deeply for so many years. I'm eager to read it again soon.
My son, meanwhile, is currently gobbling up The Eyre Affair and its sequels. I am thrilled to hear him laughing aloud at the literary jokes!
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In the evenings at the beach, the three of us watched my favorite film version of Jane Eyre: the BBC miniseries starring actress Ruth Wilson. (My husband knows Wilson from her current role on our beloved mystery series Luther. If you don't know the series and have Netflix streaming, go watch season one right now. Or check it out: you'll appreciate the captions.)
Although both my son and my partner enjoyed the miniseries, I think David was pretty disappointed with some of the changes it made from the book. I love Wilson as Jane Eyre. And I adore Toby Steven's Rochester--both unpleasant and completely loveable. (Personally, I don't see what Jane sees in Rochester in the Mia Wasikowska version--although I do like Judi Dench as Jane Fairfax.)
Somehow, I think all of our thoughts about turning should not really be leading us to think about the turning of books into movies...
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In the next couple of posts, I'll talk a bit about the books we brought along and what I am making of my current reading.