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Villette (Bantam Classics) Paperback – October 1, 1986
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"Brontë’s finest novel."—Virginia Woolf
From the Publisher
With her final novel, Villette, Charlotte Bronte reached the height of her artistic power. First published in 1853, Villette is Bronte's most accomplished and deeply felt work, eclipsing even Jane Eyre in critical acclaim. Her narrator, the autobiographical Lucy Snowe, flees England and a tragic past to become an instructor in a French boarding school in the town of Villette. There, she unexpectedly confronts her feelings of love and longing as she witnesses the fitful romance between Dr. John, a handsome young Englishman, and Ginerva Fanshawe, a beautiful coquetter. This first pain brings others, and with them comes the heartache Lucy has tried so long to escape. Yet in spite of adversity and disappointment, Lucy Snowe survives to recount the unstinting vision of a turbulent life's journey--a journey that is one of the most insightful fictional studies of a woman's consciousness in English literature.
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The plot is often dark and sad, almost tragic. I agree with one reviewer who called Lucy Snowe the "anti-Austen" character. Most of the time I felt sorry for Lucy, even outraged for her. The book's untidy ending just continues the exasparation of those readers who are pulling for Lucy's happiness.
In the end the life of Lucy is not unlike real life for some: a mixture of hope and despair, happiness and sadness, blessing and cursing.
It's worth reading, but beware. It is certainly not a modern american story.
Don't miss reading Villette. It requires close attention (and some translation of French passages), but the effort is repaid a thousandfold.
by all literate speakers and readers of English. The entire book takes place in the
head of Lucy Snowe, just as the story of Jane Eyre takes place in Jane's mind and imagination.
Lucy's interior thoughts are not erudite or filled with great wisdom and human insight.
It is dominated by feelings and impressions and all other emotions.
She is also a think-for-yourself Protestant and dislikes an inherited concept of Catholicism
which implies that one need only trust the Church.
If the reader hopes to be entertained with a romantic adventure he/she will be disappointed. The
plot (if one even exists) could be told in two pages of bold print. As Chesterton stated in an essay,
"The book stunned the reading public because Lucy was a female that had thoughts and feelings
beyond the kitchen and the nursery."