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Shirley by Charlotte Brontë

Shirley (1849)

by Charlotte Brontë

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,803382,081 (3.68)2 / 178
  1. 10
    Miss Miles: or, A Tale of Yorkshire Life 60 Years Ago by Mary Taylor (CurrerBell)
    CurrerBell: Miss Miles, published in 1890 and centered on "Brontë country" in Yorkshire in the 1830s, was authored by Mary Taylor, who along with Ellen Nussey was one of Charlotte Brontë's two best friends from boarding-school days. It addresses the "women's issue" with particular emphasis on Taylor's belief that women had a moral obligation to be self-supporting and not to rely on men. Taylor's "Radical Dissenter" response to the "Tory Anglicanism" of Shirley.… (more)
  2. 10
    Adam Bede by George Eliot (gypsysmom)
  3. 10
    Sybil, or The Two Nations by Benjamin Disraeli (MissWoodhouse1816)

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English (35)  German (2)  Italian (1)  All (38)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Five reasons why I liked "Shirley":

Free-spirited Shirley: Miss Keeldar is a great heroine. Charlotte Brontë have enriched Shirley with great wealth, she’s a land owner and independent, which means she can speak against the corrupt curates, help the mill owner - start a social reform program for the poor - and in one of the best scenes of the novel go against her uncle when he thinks he has found the best match for her. Just brilliant.

Luddites uprising: The novels first chapters takes us right into the historical setting (1811-12) in Yorkshire during the Napoleonic Wars where the poor workers try to attack and kill the mill owner, Robert Moore, because he’s replacing workers with new industrialised equipment. A very interesting conflict that’s the background for the two romantic plots.

Women’s role in society: The novel have several interesting discussions on women’s emancipation - We empathize with Caroline Helstone and the constraints society puts on her - she has limited possibilities in life without parents and dependent on a fickle uncle - and marriage seems out of reach. Shirley on the other hand embraces her economic and social independence which defies conventions and expectations.

Enduring friendship: The deepening and beautiful friendship between Caroline and Shirley is a great pleasure to follow. They have altogether different temperaments and characters - yet support and help each other throughout the novel.

“The Valley of the Shadow of Death” Headline for this chapter with Caroline on her deathbed. I can still remember walking and listening to it with both fascination and trembling - and it reveals one of Charlotte Brontë's famous plot twists. It’s haunting with gothic elements - and no doubt influenced by her own life experience. Three of Charlotte Brontë’s siblings died during the writing of this novel (all wihtin nine months). First her alcoholic brother, Bramwell, and then shortly after each other, Emily and Anne. ( )
2 vote ctpress | Jan 20, 2017 |
Started reading this book, but I must admit that it is not the right book for me at this point in time.
I like the language, but I can't concentrate on the very sliwly developing story. The many characters that have already given presence I can hardly tell apart.
I find myself making excuses not to go on in this book, not wanting to read on.

For now I quit reading. Maybe at another time I'll try again. Maybe I find a translation, that would be great too.
  BoekenTrol71 | Nov 18, 2016 |
Though titled Shirley, she only appears about a quarter into the plot. Caroline dominates the story for the first quarter before fleeting in and out. Similarly, Louis Moore, the man that Shirley has fallen in love with, only appears three-quarters into the plot. Still, the unlikely romance between Shirley and Louis was a delight to follow. ( )
  siok | Jun 12, 2016 |
Approaching “Shirley” for a second time, after first reading it six years previously, I realised that I remembered little about it yet seemed to think I’d enjoyed it. In retrospect, had I remembered more about it, I wouldn’t have returned for another read.

This surprised me, actually, as when I re-read Charlotte Brontë’s “Villette” and “The Professor” I appreciated them both more after a second reading.

Having checked some of the other Goodreads’ reviews of “Shirley” it seems to be a book that you either love or hate. I wouldn’t go as far as stating that I hate it. As the two-star rating suggests, I thought it was “okay”, but the good parts are hard to find in this mundane tome.

The elements that appeal to me are few. Seldom did I find myself engaged with what the author had to offer. I did like some of the characters, such as Caroline, the Moore brothers, Malone, young Martin, and Shirley herself, but none of these were of a classic or memorable mould.

One of the few interesting scenarios I liked was the part where young Martin Yorke comes to the fore. His interaction with Caroline was engaging. Can’t say too much more in case I reveal a spoiler, but this section adds a different slant to the novel for a short while.

Wish I could mention further positive points, as I am a fan of Charlotte and her sisters Emily and Anne, but of the seven novels produced between them, “Shirley” is the only one I’d never read again.

One of the main reasons I have such a low opinion of this book is owing to the third person narrator rambling on and on, boring me stupid with chapters like “Mr Yorke”, which is an elongated description about the man’s personality and appearance that could’ve been whittled down to a short paragraph.

I always hate it when authors write endless explanations of what a character is like, *telling* us all about them, when they could’ve served the reader far better by *showing* us what the character is like through dramatizing scenes. The amount of telling as opposed to showing is one of this novel’s let-downs.

Another negative aspect is the excessive amount of characters. Had Charlotte halved the amount of actors it would’ve made a positive difference.

A further let-down, albeit not too frequent but often enough to draw attention to, is unrealistic dialogue. This quote of Caroline addressing Martin at his father’s gate is a prime example:

> “But here we must part; we are at your father’s gate.”“Mauvaise tête vous-même; je ne fais que mon devoir; quant à vos lourdauds de paysans, je m’en moque!”
“En ravanche, mon garçon, nos lourdauds de paysans se moqueront de toi; sois en certain,” replied Yorke, speaking with nearly as pure a French accent as Gérard Moore.
“C’est bon! c’est bon! Et puisque cela m’est égal, que mes amis ne s’en inquiètent pas.”
“Tes amis! Où sont-ils, tes amis?”
“Je fais écho, où sont-ils? et je suis fort aise que l’écho seul y répond. Au diable les amis! Je me souviens encore du moment où mon père et mes oncles Gérard appellèrent autour d’eux leurs amis, et Dieu sait si les amis se sont empressés d’accourir à leur secours! Tenez, M. Yorke, ce mot, ami, m’irrite trop; ne m’en parlez plus.”
“Comme tu voudras.”He proceeded to recite the following. He gave it in French, but we must translate, on pain of being unintelligible to some readers.At length, however, a window opened, and a female voice called to him, —
“Eh, bien! Tu ne déjeûnes pas ce matin?”
The answer, and the rest of the conversation, was in French; but as this is an English book, I shall translate it into English.she bent her head et les effleura de ses lèvres. (I put that in French because the word effleurer is an exquisite word.) ( )
  PhilSyphe | May 5, 2016 |
How amazing for a female author to be able to write about a woman who is in charge of a business without being married. Charlotte Bronte is best known for Jane Eyre, a story of a woman who has to remain in a subservient role but the character Shirley, declares herself a man psychologically and declares she has no need to marry. Just like all the Jane Austen/Bronte sisters stories, the plot ends up dealing with loving someone below their social class. ( )
  CathyWacksman | Apr 24, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brontë, Charlotteprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dei, Fedorasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Phipps, HowardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Of late years, an abundant shower of curates has fallen upon the north of England: they lie very thick on the hills; every parish has one or more of them; they are young enough to be very active, and ought to be doing a great deal of good.
Shirley was Charlotte Bronte's watershed. (Introduction)
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Book description
Haiku summary
Shirley: "Pantheress"!
A woman in a man's world
Boldly makes her way

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141439866, Paperback)

Set during the Napoleonic wars at a time of national economic struggles, Shirley is an unsentimental yet passionate depiction of conflict among classes, sexes, and generations. Struggling manufacturer Robert Moore considers marriage to the wealthy and independent Shirley Keeldar, yet his heart lies with his cousin Caroline. Shirley, meanwhile, is in love with Robert’s brother, an impoverished tutor. As industrial unrest builds to a potentially fatal pitch, can the four be reconciled?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:36 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

Set in Yorkshire during the period of the Napoleonic Wars, this novel articulates the social realities of economic hardship, the Luddite riots, dissatisfaction with the government and an inadequate Church.

» see all 8 descriptions

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Average: (3.68)
1 5
1.5 1
2 31
2.5 10
3 95
3.5 31
4 145
4.5 15
5 70

Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439866, 0141199539

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