By Charlotte Brontë
328 pages; Wilder

The story: A younger woman comes to serve as governess in an English country manor—and falls for the mysterious owner of the house.

Why it inspires: "There is so much about this book that was revolutionary. You have a heroine who is plain, but she's clever. Also, Jane is a woman who speaks her mind—she doesn't lie to please the establishment, or to please men."

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