Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre

Within fifteen minutes of completion I’m here with good intentions.

Cast your minds back momentarily to that time I came at you raving about attending Short Stories Aloud…Anyway, as luck would have it, the most senior member of Team Family deduced that there was really something quite important missing from my bookshelf and returned home a couple of days after this fabulous event with a very thoughtful gift – Jane Eyre. 

Having never read it and appreciating that there’s no time like the present, I’ve spent the last two months dipping in and out of it and working tremendously hard during the last 30 pages not to weep bulging tears of happiness.

What an amazing heroine. So assured and perceptive and intelligent and kind.  We need to have one on every street.  She faced adversity and instead of being crippled by it, conquered it.

I can’t recollect ever reading another tale from this period quite like it. She’s thoroughly independent and knows her mind.  The more you read, the more you are struck by her tenacity. I hear Beyonce singing when I think of her.

I also love that marriage and relationships are on her terms, not those prescribed by a potential mate and I love how she can be honest about the decisions she makes.

Perhaps what I love most though, is her intellect. What I’d do to have a third of her wit and talent in conversation. Actually, what I’d do to have spent even just one afternoon with Charlotte Bronte, for how could she produce such a brilliant novel without investing a lot of her own experience and self into it.

And one more thing – I’ve just scanned through the Chronology at the front of my copy and note that in 1836, Bronte wrote to Robert Southey with a collection of her poetry, his response ‘Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life; and it ought not to be’. Outrageous and wrong!


Leopold Museum

Museumsplatz 1, Wien


Satisfaction comes in a variety of ways.

One such, heading off to view a little Klimt and then discovering Koloman Moser and Egon Schiele.  Sorry I should correct myself, obviously I didn’t discover or scout them but I did spend a terrific morning, thirty seven days back, seeing them for my first time in a gallery scarcely populated, in the heart of the Vienna.

So what caught my thoughts.

  • Gaining the opportunity to see more of Klimt’s work you get the sense that this guy was modern and although I left the gallery shop without a copy of the ‘Kiss’ on a coffee cup, I’m so pleased he was around and having an impact in a time when the establishment were a little uptight.
  • Koloman Moser – why wasn’t I told about him in school and recommended to him earlier? His skill and style is diverse and his brushstrokes worth seeing in the raw.

Koloman Moser

  • And Egon Schiele – a born artist and thankfully for humankind he pursued his very rich talent. The work he was producing by eighteen years of age is astonishing. A little pained putting it conservatively, but you can’t deny his exceptional gift. You also get the sense that Lucien Freud was perhaps a disciple.

Egon Schiele 1

Also of super value for those non German speakers out there – each painting comes with a great explanation in German and English so…you don’t just view and learn but read and learn. How good is that?

I’ve just checked on the museum’s website and thankfully you won’t need to rush off now and view the pieces, as it looks like they are in the permanent collection, however if you do find yourself travelling around Europe, or currently standing on the street in the Austrian capital – head here. By far the best thing and first thing you should venture to explore when you arrive in Wien.

Ursula Arnold, Arno Fischer, Evelyn Richter: Capturing Time

At the Museum der bildenden Kunste Leipzig


Something’s pretty fantastic about accidentally ending up in a photographic exhibition in Leipzig when your husband discovers half-way through that his mother had viewed some of these very same shots at The Family of Man exhibition, hosted at the MoMA in New York, sixty-one years earlier. She apparently relished the show, and it’s easy to see why just from the photos we had to hand. The people captured are real; the composition of the shots detailed without being exhausting; and in terms of getting an appreciation of the lives of others – educational.


This is a representative selection of the considerable works of three talented photographers, dating I think back to the 1940s through approximately 60 years of their work. So not only do you get a real taste of history, both political and social, but also the advantage of seeing where the photographers were similar and then differed in their styles. You also get the opportunity to gauge the differences in terms of their subjects.

Arno Fischer 2

These photographs at the time didn’t just toe the party line or a socialist agenda, on the contrary, they welcomed the viewer (and still do), to think about what’s going on in the photograph, ask questions about the environment in which people lived, and provide almost a stepping stone for you to consider what’s happening in these people’s lives, not just when the picture is taken, but before and after. It’s as if the subject is providing the platform to share, and us the viewer, to learn and experience and be informed.

Arno Fischer

A few things that struck me, the people in 1950s East Germany didn’t look that different to the British, dress was similar, statue and street scene are almost too familiar and it is only when examining the 1980s photographs, you get the sense that there was definitely a divide. Yes, you guessed it, it’s the dress and the hair, it’s also the ‘place‘. Everything looks a little out-of-date and crying out for a make-over.


Having said that however, (sadly I can’t recollect which of the three photographers were responsible for some New York photos in the early 80s), what was interesting, is that NYC‘s represented in such a rundown state, almost a no go zone, one you definitely wouldn’t be hankering to fly off immediately to and visit…so those beliefs that things were always so much better in the West, for me now just don’t ring true.

On a personal level I did a lot of re-evaluating my idea of what life was like behind the Iron Curtain. Crazy as it sounds, I had this ridiculous notion that human existence wasn’t that normal, so seeing it through the lens of these talented three I at least now have a more educated grasp.  Life was normal. People lived and loved and got on with things.

It’s on until 3 October 2016