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Villette by Charlotte Bronte

Villette (original 1853; edition 1966)

by Charlotte Bronte

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5,210None852 (3.92)2 / 357
Authors:Charlotte Bronte
Info:Dent (An Everyman Paperback) (1966), Paperback, 468 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Main, Fiction

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Villette by Charlotte Brontë (1853)


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Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
I understood Lucy and her plight, from her loneliness and aloneness to her irrational impulse to get up and flee from what she wants. If not out loud, I was mentally coaxing her to "Just DO such-and-such! Go for it! Who cares what those other folks think? Who are they, anyway?"--all the while understanding why she wouldn't do as I coaxed and realizing the probability that, if I was in her position, I might not do as I coaxed either. (Ha! Show us ourselves, Brontë, and we'll accordingly see where and how we can become something better.)

I don't know if it was the author's intention to make anything "cute" about her characters, but her style of writing often breeds cuteness in the characters and their relations with one another. Lucy and M. Paul grow into such a cute pair, likely, I think, already stuck on each other long before they recognize it, or at least long before Lucy does.

Toward the end of the novel, I began reading in a passionate rush, the climax goading me forward faster than I moved through the majority of the story, even drawing an audible groan or something akin to a vindictive growl from me at one point (though I had to check it, since I was reading in a public place at the time.) Earlier details which could easily have been arbitrary turned out not to be, as a purpose was ultimately brought out of these details. Throughout the book, I was pleased by Brontë's ability to surprise me, to handle the character development, the plot, and the execution in ways I would not have foreseen. Sometimes I thought her choices strange; but then, who wants to read a book for which you can accurately predetermine every turn the plot will take and exactly how the characters will be in every respect? That wouldn't leave much of a need for the author's work or imagination--you could have just written the book yourself and saved the trouble of procuring it from elsewhere. Hence, the "strange" choices served to strengthen the book as a whole, and while I would have assumed there'd be a need for me to rate this book below Jane Eyre, now a favorite novel of mine that would be hard to match, saying this book didn't amaze me wouldn't be an accurate statement. I appreciate it differently than Brontë's most popular novel, but not unequally. A wonderful read! ( )
  NadineC.Keels | Apr 10, 2014 |
It was good until the very very end. No resolution. It just stopped. There was no end there was a stop. I stayed up late because it got too good to put down. Then there is more self-righteous suffering and then it ends. It doesn't matter about the rest of the book. The end was so disappointing. ( )
  sarahzilkastarke | Nov 20, 2013 |
Villette is the semi autobiographical story of Lucy Snowe, a young woman of 23 who travels to Villette, a fictional town but modeled after Brussels, Belgium, where the author and her sister did travel for teaching positions. Ms Snowe does not know French, travels alone and is fortunate to find a position as a teacher in a boarding school because she speaks English. While traveling she befriends a young, shallow woman by the name of Ginevra Fanshawe, reunites with her Godmother and her son and becomes friends with M. Paul Carlos David Emanuel. She also runs into a former acquaintance named Polly, a serious young woman of high virtue. This is a Gothic romance and there are spectres of a nun and love that is met with adversity. Themes include the clash of protestantism and catholicism and gender roles and isolation.
This is the author's third novel, the first being Jane Eyre. The first is probably a better story in scope but this novel is enjoyable, the protagonist has many admirable characteristics and the men in the book are generally of good qualities. This novel was criticized at the time for not being suitably feminine in portraying Lucy Snowe, therefore I think the author was successful in getting her social commentary on the life of single women in Victorian England heard. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
Villette was the first Charlotte Brontë (or any Brontë sister) novel that I read. I was told it is a lot less popular and a lot darker than Jane Eyre. But the darkness of the book is what made me absolutely love it. That and its narrator.

Lucy Snowe is the definition of an unreliable narrator, with her manipulations and lacunae, but who doesn't love to distrust a narrator? She, as a narrator, is what makes this novel fascinating. Though she is melancholy and pained as a character and seems to never step up and act or stand up for herself when it counts, she is skillful and witty in her story telling. She lies to you and tells you she's doing it, she keeps things from you sometimes without you realizing it, and she intentionally refuses to tell you major pieces of the plot and her life. It definitely makes for a unique read and keeps the reader trying to figure her out from page one until the end.

But the dark and depressing parts of Lucy, and of the plot, are very well-written as well. For me, her story was relatable and inspired sympathy. I really came to love and root for Brontë's narrator, even if the author herself despised the young woman. ( )
  rachelda | Oct 21, 2013 |
We denizens of 'The Book of Disquiet' salute you.

We of the small loves and small livings, the tiny joys and tiny dreams, bid you welcome. Our home is well-adjusted and self-assured, for if we profess ourselves any sort of connoisseur, it lies within those realms. Our work keeps us fed, clothed, ticking along at a methodical pace that matches the step of our action.

Our doings are wrested from the very root of us, and we cannot remember a time when our will was a creature without chain or muzzle.

We of the thoughtful posing and quiet undertaking, the nondescript manner and stoic expression, pass you by. Our persona is mature and respectable, for if we claim ourselves any manner of actor, in those appearances we reign supreme. Our countenance keeps us from harm, trouble, the majority of unwelcome intrusions and unexpected disturbances.

Our face once feared the cruel judgment of every eye, and we will never know how much we have lost in maintaining its proud coldness.

We of the reticent life and withdrawn days, the slow solitude and meandering existence, pray you keep at a distance. Our existence is of much self and little other, for if we must cluster our many sensibilities under a single roof, we will choose a room of our own. Our self-appraisals keep us safe, secure, a well measured freedom in the functions of a perfectly plotted daily life.

Our souls cry, and cry, and cry, for we have not yet found the permanent satisfaction that such an existence promises.

We of the careful cravings and hesitant urges, the hard won realizations and fierce practices, present to you on rare occasions. Our passions are few and foremost, for if we believe ourselves the bearer of any kind of talent, we cling to it as a ballast of temporal assurance. Our works keep us a measure of the past, future, a present that without such doings would slip into the void of useless persistence.

Our praxis heeds neither standard nor accreditation, and thus we are admired, and thus we are condemned.

We of the observant eye and sardonic grin, the quickening wit and sober analysis, say to you, beware! Our modus operandi is an invisible seething, for if we name our most finely tuned instinct, it is the instantaneous measure of irony of any and all. Our entertainment keeps us amused in parts, and fully familiarized with the discordant pomposity of reality in others.

Ignorance is bliss, a garden from which we were banished long ago, forevermore to discontentedly mock and claw ourselves bloody on our own eternal hypocrisies.

We of the accumulated being and carved out philosophy, the chaotic incorporations and weathered discombobulations, forbid you the ease of category. Our mind is our own and ours alone, for if we hold ourselves to any creed, we demand it change with our every breath and drop of blood. Our sustenance keep us alive, and woe to any who choose only between spitting us out and swallowing us whole.

It is lonely, here, but nowhere else will let us be.

We of the experienced heart and cautious brain, the creeping desire and subtle attractions, set you at a distance. Our love knows itself very well, for if there is one thing it characterizes itself by, it is the painfully slow and all encompassing spread of loyalty incarnate. Our self very rarely finds another it can devote itself to, and knows itself too tightly reined to come to any foolish end.

We bury our seeds too deeply, and their strangling growths are doomed to die without a trace of reciprocating sun.

And so, we denizens of 'Villette' bid you adieu. We are a small, strange, and sad sort, and our weirdly warped self-censures are likely to accrue as life goes on. Much more likely to build up into an age old oubliette within which we quietly fade to our own ends, than to erode. However, if you are patient, and you do care, we may come out again. We take long in developing affection, and even longer in feeling confident to bestow such affections unlooked for, but if you seek us out and encourage from us the same, who knows. We will still be mindful of all the rest, but perhaps, yes. We will come out to play. ( )
  Korrick | Sep 12, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charlotte Brontëprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haapanen-Tallgren, TyyniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosengarten, HerbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, MargaretEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weston, MandyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My godmother lived in a handsome house in the clean and ancient town of Bretton.
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Book description
Friendless and poor, Lucy Snowe arrives in the great Belgian city of Villette, where the sophisticated, devious Madame Beck offers her a post in her girls' school. Though Lucy gradually wins the respect of the spoiled, unruly pupils and her suspicious fellow-teachers, she is adrift from her own culture and finds her solitude desolating. In a powerfully-evoked crisis during the summer vacation, she encounters friends from her childhood, John Bretton and his kindly mother, but her feeling for the charming Dr John have to be curbed when she discovers that his love is bestowed elsewhere. In exploring this crisis and her emergence from it, Charlotte Bronte produced possibly the first, and certainly one of the most important fictional accounts of a woman's emotional breakdown.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140434798, Paperback)

"I am only just returned to a sense of real wonder about me, for I have been reading Villette..." —George Eliot

With neither friends nor family, Lucy Snowe sets sail from England to find employment in a girls’ boarding school in the small town of Villette. There she struggles to retain her self-possession in the face of unruly pupils, an initially suspicious headmaster, and her own complex feelings, first for the school’s English doctor and then for the dictatorial professor, Paul Emmanuel. Charlotte Brontë’s last and most autobiographical novel is a powerfully moving study of isolation and the pain of unrequited love, narrated by a heroine determined to preserve an independent spirit in the face of adverse circumstances.

Villette draws on Brontë’s own unhappy experience as a governess in Brussels
New Introduction examines the novel's social and historical context and argues for its importance as an exploration of imperialism
Includes chronology, suggestions for further reading, and explanatory notes


(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:26 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

With neither friends nor family, Lucy Snowe sets sail from England to find employment in a girls' boarding school in the small town of Villette. There she struggles to retain her self-possession in the face of unruly pupils, an initially suspicious headmaster and her own complex feelings.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 10 descriptions

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Thirteen editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140434798, 0141199881

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