The first time I was introduced to the story of Jane Eyre was in Elementary School. I loved reading and it was my favorite part of English class. The school had these abridged versions of some of the classics that we got extra credit for reading. Jane Eyre was the one that no one wanted to read because it was the longest. So, naturally, I had to read it because no one else would. And I liked it. When I realized years later that the one I had read was abridged I decided I needed to read the complete version. But I didn't finish it at the time because it was too long for me when I was younger.
Now I can say that I've read the whole book and I enjoyed it for the most part. It reminds me a lot of Austen, probably because they were from the same era, but with some very noticeable differences. Bronte is way more didactic (preachy) with the first third of the book full of preaching and morality. Once the story got moving it was better. Jane Eyre is a strong character but not in the same sense as Elizabeth Bennett. However, she is still a great character that draws you into the book as you read her life and see how she falls in love. It's a romance all the way - definitely a chick read.
There's a reason it's considered a classic and I'm glad I took the challenge to read it even after all these years.