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With her final novel, Villette, Charlotte Brontë reached the height of her artistic power. First published in 1853, Villette is Brontë'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 coquette. The 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.

573 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1853

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About the author

Charlotte Brontë

2,254 books16.1k followers
Charlotte Brontë was an English novelist, the eldest out of the three famous Brontë sisters whose novels have become standards of English literature. See also Emily Brontë and Anne Brontë.

Charlotte Brontë was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England, the third of six children, to Patrick Brontë (formerly "Patrick Brunty"), an Irish Anglican clergyman, and his wife, Maria Branwell. In April 1820 the family moved a few miles to Haworth, a remote town on the Yorkshire moors, where Patrick had been appointed Perpetual Curate. This is where the Brontë children would spend most of their lives. Maria Branwell Brontë died from what was thought to be cancer on 15 September 1821, leaving five daughters and a son to the care of her spinster sister Elizabeth Branwell, who moved to Yorkshire to help the family.

In August 1824 Charlotte, along with her sisters Emily, Maria, and Elizabeth, was sent to the Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire, a new school for the daughters of poor clergyman (which she would describe as Lowood School in Jane Eyre). The school was a horrific experience for the girls and conditions were appalling. They were regularly deprived of food, beaten by teachers and humiliated for the slightest error. The school was unheated and the pupils slept two to a bed for warmth. Seven pupils died in a typhus epidemic that swept the school and all four of the Brontë girls became very ill - Maria and Elizabeth dying of tuberculosis in 1825. Her experiences at the school deeply affected Brontë - her health never recovered and she immortalised the cruel and brutal treatment in her novel, Jane Eyre. Following the tragedy, their father withdrew his daughters from the school.

At home in Haworth Parsonage, Charlotte and the other surviving children — Branwell, Emily, and Anne — continued their ad-hoc education. In 1826 her father returned home with a box of toy soldiers for Branwell. They would prove the catalyst for the sisters' extraordinary creative development as they immediately set to creating lives and characters for the soldiers, inventing a world for them which the siblings called 'Angria'. The siblings became addicted to writing, creating stories, poetry and plays. Brontë later said that the reason for this burst of creativity was that:

'We were wholly dependent on ourselves and each other, on books and study, for the enjoyments and occupations of life. The highest stimulus, as well as the liveliest pleasure we had known from childhood upwards, lay in attempts at literary composition.'

After her father began to suffer from a lung disorder, Charlotte was again sent to school to complete her education at Roe Head school in Mirfield from 1831 to 1832, where she met her lifelong friends and correspondents, Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor. During this period (1833), she wrote her novella The Green Dwarf under the name of Wellesley. The school was extremely small with only ten pupils meaning the top floor was completely unused and believed to be supposedly haunted by the ghost of a young lady dressed in silk. This story fascinated Brontë and inspired the figure of Mrs Rochester in Jane Eyre.

Brontë left the school after a few years, however she swiftly returned in 1835 to take up a position as a teacher, and used her wages to pay for Emily and Anne to be taught at the school. Teaching did not appeal to Brontë and in 1838 she left Roe Head to become a governess to the Sidgewick family -- partly from a sense of adventure and a desire to see the world, and partly from financial necessity.

Charlotte became pregnant soon after her wedding, but her health declined rapidly and, according to biographer Elizabeth Gaskell, she was attacked by "sensations of perpetual nausea and ever-recurring faintness." She died, with her unborn child, on 31 March 1855.

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5 stars
20,337 (28%)
4 stars
23,872 (33%)
3 stars
18,865 (26%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,163 reviews
Profile Image for Ginny.
12 reviews46 followers
January 23, 2008
Lucy Snowe hates you. She's writing her story for you, you're experiencing the most intimate contact there can be between two people, and she hates you. It makes for a hard read.

Her older sister, Jane-- you remember her?-- she loved you. Most of you probably had to read her story in high school, whereas not one teacher in a thousand would touch Villette. Nor should they. High schoolers have enough rejection to cope with. Most of them were probably bored or annoyed with Jane, but you have to give the woman credit: she did love you. That one sentence: "Reader, I married him"; do you hear the love in that? She is with you, she tells it calmly and sweetly, the thing which (if you cared at all) you've been dying to hear. And she trusts that you do care. She doesn't even question it. She brings you straight into the fold, giving peace to herself, to Mr. Rochester, and to you in one quiet sentence.

Not so Lucy Snowe. She is sure that you don't care, sure that you want to read some other story, that you're not tough enough or insightful enough to handle hers. So she hides from you, and sneers at you from behind her hands. She clothes her reticence in language of modesty, of restraint, of sensitivity to your tender feelings, but it's very plain that the truth is much uglier: she doesn't trust you and she doesn't think you're worthy.

I'm sure you can find reasons for her to be this way: she had a difficult childhood; she was repeatedly overlooked by people she adored; not enough people have cared, so she just assumes nobody does. The psychoanalysis is all very interesting and makes for some good class discussions, but it doesn't take away the bitter taste. Lucy Snowe hates you, distrusts you, looks down on you. And you, poor reader, separated by bars of space and time and reality, can't do a thing to show her she's wrong.

It's a fucking brilliant book.
Profile Image for emma.
1,872 reviews54.8k followers
December 29, 2022
welcome to...VILLETTEMBER!

that would be a better pun for september but who cares, big news, THIS MONTH HAS TWO PROJECT LONG CLASSIC INSTALLMENTS!

i missed this project so much, and it's been so long, and also i am so behind on my reading challenge and tired of reading tiny books and graphic novels to try to catch up, so here we are. all december long, i'll be reading both this and anna karenina.

my tbr review of this said "how do i become the type of person who can read more than one 600 page classic per year? asking for a friend."

this is how we find out.

this book is 42 chapters long and i'll be reading it for 32 days, so a lot of this will just be by vibe alone, i guess.

and i won't be noting which day i read what chapter because i want you all in a state of mystification and wonder, always.

this little freak...

this bit of dialogue:
“I told you I liked him a little. Where is the use of caring for him so very much: he is full of faults.”

“Is he?”

“All boys are.”

“More than girls?”

“Very likely. Wise people say it is folly to think anybody perfect; and as to likes and dislikes, we should be friendly to all, and worship none.”

“Are you a wise person?”

“I mean to try to be so.”

slay alert.

i keep trying to hold myself open to the possibility of liking this book more than jane eyre, but i just can't believe it.

i am willing to consider that lucy might be more interesting than perfect lil jane, though.

lol. are you allowed to just call a chapter that? seems like cheating.

"Whence did I come? Whither should I go? What should I do?" the original lyrics to cotton eyed joe.

our protagonist's financial skills are giving me the same vibe as harry and ron's dedication to homework in the later harry potter books. PLEASE DO BETTER YOU'RE STRESSING ME OUT.

sorry for the potter reference. very out of character for me.

title chapter!!!!!

when most people get drunk, they miss exes or past relationships or whatever. when i get drunk, i get sad that i'm losing my ability to speak french and become obsessed with proving to myself that i still know it. last night i got drunk at dave and buster's with my boyfriend and later read the original little prince out loud to myself.

anyway. this book is perfect for the lingering effects of that quest.

a series of slays.

i haven't needed to translate any of the french yet. ego feeling: enormous.

this chapter is roughly half paragraphs on paragraphs of excuses as to why our girl lucy is constantly staring at / gazing at / lovingly pondering the visage of this doctor guy who keeps hanging around.

if this isn't our love interest, i will a) be shocked and b) have a lot of follow up questions.

okay so maybe i was wrong.

a secret admirer!!! things are heating up...

also i still believe myself to be right. this bozo has to either be the love interest or the fake love interest (who, like, falls in love with lucy but is shallow or something).

weird to read charlotte brontë being funny. jane eyre being all somber and gloomy gives her a bad rap.

it's party time.

woof, that's a long chapter. all these old-timey books have such a vendetta against theater kids...just one more reason to love classics.

look at me, doing two chapters in one day even though the first was the longest yet and the second legitimately has long in its title. the word brave gets thrown around a lot these days...

nothing could be as opposite in vibe as the name of this chapter and its contents.

and thus we end volume 1!

thinking about when harry met sally again...

WHAT A TWIST! man oh man this is a good time.

lucy needs to get better ASAP. all this quiet polite godliness is making her seem like jane (derogatory).

judging by the title i'm going to file my last complaint under asked + answered.

all right. the quarrel lasted like four and a half sentences but it still counts as the proof of backbone long time fans (read: me) have been asking for.

i really don't feel like working today. reading this book (aka feeling productive while doing something i enjoy) may be my downfall.

at least this wasn't a fun one. also, why do old books insist on having like 19 different names for the same characters? between this and anna karenina i have a mental conspiracy board going.

imagine living in a country that had a king and queen. like, your taxes are just going to these random people cosplaying as 19th century citizens. embarrassing. yet another thing to mock the british about.

this was a fun one. karma for yesterday.

jane eyre would never fib like lucy snowe just did. and for that we must stan our dear lucy.

i don't know why i'm talking so much sh*t on jane eyre, a book i five starred. but janie herself is kinda boring we can admit.

it sounds like something exciting happened but it was so immediately dismissed as The Result Of Fright; An Attack Of Nerves or some sh*t like that that i can't even tell what it was.


i'm ready to make a prediction. and that prediction is this: the little freak is back.

she's a genius, folks. (she being me.)

lucy is getting even more depressing than jane ever was. as if that were possible. get a hobby or something, girlfriend, good lord.

i'm just going to say it: i'm not a fan of the turn this has taken. it's like if a babysitter and the babysittee reconnected after 10 years and started hitting on each other. gross city, no thank you, i would like to leave this plotline and return to the one i thought i was in.

dun dun dun!

this was nowhere close to what i thought we were getting, with a title like THE BURIAL, but it does include lucy being kind of petty again so i'll take it. all this moping over letters was killing me.

this managed somehow to be simultaneously the most Lucy Has A Backbone and Lucy Is So Depressing chapter yet.

onto volume iii!

here's the thing: i don't need this book to be a romance. i don't even necessarily WANT it to be a romance. if this were a tale of a woman living her life a-okay, that'd be fine and dandy and even preferred.

but oh my god lucy is not a-okay. not at all. so in that case give me a romance already.

i'm complaining a lot but a) i'm enjoying this, i just like complaining, and b) it's mostly pertaining to the romance i think / fear / predict may be coming. (for the record, i was right about our preliminary love interest, so i have to imagine i'll go 2 for 2 like the genius empath i am.)

okay i loved this? and i think i'm a perfect brilliant genius.

i am confronted with a situation that few in human history have experienced, only those who share my daunting intellect: i think i was too correct and now i'm worried and regretful.

i accidentally took the whole four-day holiday weekend off from reading entirely and now i fear i find myself with five days left in the year and twelve chapters to go.

"But I learned in time that this benignity, this cordiality, this music, belonged in no shape to me: it was a part of himself; it was the honey of his temper; it was the balm of his mellow mood; he imparted it, as the ripe fruit rewards with sweetness the rifling bee; he diffused it about him, as sweet plants shed their perfume. Does the nectarine love either the bee or bird it feeds? Is the sweetbriar enamoured of the air?"


i was fading on this book but it appears i am back on board.

i cannot...bring myself...to get on board for this...

look at me, having a three-chapter day like a damn saint.

LUCY!!!! you frustrating little minx...

sounds like the name of a villain in a children's cartoon.

the subtitle of this book should be IT'S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL. it's like a 600 page exploration of that six degrees of kevin bacon game but kevin bacon is lucy snowe, who is on a first name basis with 4.5 people on earth and all of them know each other.

heartbreak, part deux AND fright reveal. we're eating good in the house of villette.

all previous requests for a second romance to prove me right and help me have a good time have been canceled. these bozos are out here referring to each other as siblings.

being brave again...i fell deeply behind on this and my other project, a situation i am resolving by reading 50 pages a day of that and 3 chapters a day of this.

against all my wishes, abilities, and general end of year plans. and more specific desires because this chapter felt very long and was all about catholicism vs protestantism.

based on the usual accuracy of this book's chapter titles, i'm predicting this will be filled with darkness and suffering.

actually i'd title this one DADDY ISSUES.

love that this chapter opens with "i'm still alone and that's god's fault."

this nun subplot...bizarro. there is so much and so little going on here at the same time. i have no idea what will happen next, but in an extremely low-stakes way.

we are well and truly in the Tying Up Loose Ends section of this very long book. this part is about the bratty student Ginevra Fanshawe, who i have never mentioned here because i find her role in this so confusing and inconsistent, and also because i'm trying to avoid all plot spoilers in this review, for some reason. i guess i've discovered an ability to care late in life.

anyway, here's another example of how all over the place this character is. the summary of the rest of her life begins "Of course, a large share of suffering lies in reserve for her future" and ends "and so she got on—fighting the battle of life by proxy, and, on the whole, suffering as little as any human being I have ever known."


oh :)

and so we conclude! what a ride it's been.

this was just goddamn lovely.

this book is weird and kind of sloppy, at points, and definitely a little self-indulgent (as is jane eyre)...

but i enjoyed it every single day, the writing is so lovely, and the end made me smile. plus lucy's backbone over jane's somber ass any day.
rating: 4
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books249k followers
March 7, 2019
“Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars--a cage, so peril, loneliness, an uncertain future, are not oppressive evils, so long as the frame is healthy and the faculties are employed; so long, especially, as Liberty lends us her wings, and Hope guides us by her star.”

When I was growing up in Kansas, my father farmed and worked long hours, and my mother worked the night shift at the hospital as a nurse's aide. Since my mother slept during the day, I had to be very quiet. I found that by being as silent as a church mouse I achieved about the most freedom a young lad could hope to obtain.


Books became my friends, and they were outwardly quiet companions, but inwardly sparked fires in my thought processes. I suppose I was lonely, more lonely when I tried to talk about books with the people I knew. It was like the excitement of finding a gold mine (books) only to discover that people preferred silver (television). Lucy Snowe, the heroine of Villette, is lonely; life whirls around her and occasionally spins her into a light that requires people to see her. She is uncomfortable, knowing she will be found lacking the qualities people admire most. She learns to live by observing others and most importantly to be quiet, to be the wallflower on the verge of participation, but never taking that tenuous step forward to join the fray.

"Day-dreams are delusions of the demon."

Day dreams were truly dangerous delusions for Lucy Snowe. She could not afford dreams because she could not stand the disappointment in failure to achieve those dreams. Life had to be real for Lucy. The novel begins with Lucy in the care of the Bretton's, a distant relation. She is 14, and something, never explained in the novel, has happened to her family leaving her alone in the world under the care and kindness of strangers. The reality of her situation is that she has no dowry; she is not deemed attractive, and she has few opportunities to improve her position. As she comes of age she works as a helper to an elderly, rich woman who dies leaving her again without prospects. She makes the momentous decision to move to Villette, a fictional French city, without a job or any inkling of what will become of her. Through misadventure and a bit of luck she finds herself on the doorstep of Mme. Beck's boarding school for young girls. A position is found for her teaching English to young, aristocratic girls. She is surrounded by rich people, and like a lot of wealthy people they don't understand poverty. She is asked why she teaches.

"Rather for the roof of shelter I am thus enabled to keep over my head; and for the comfort of mind it gives me to think that while I can work for myself, I am spared the pain of being a burden to anybody."

Lucy Snowe could have presented herself as feeble, in need of care, and her relation would have certainly come forward to help her, but she chose to make her own way, and even though she elicits pity from her young, rich students, she is determined to be independent. I couldn't help but be impressed by her determination and pride in taking care of herself. Life dealt her few cards, but what few cards she had was enough to keep her from the clutches of poverty.

Lucy Snowe falls in love with the dynamic Dr. John Graham Bretton, but he is in love with one of her beautiful students Ginevra Fanshawe. Lucy convinces him not only of the immaturity of his love, but the fallacies of Miss Fanshawe. He turns his attentions for a time to Lucy and starts to send her letters. Lucy knows this is too good to be true. "Reason still whispered me, laying on my shoulder a withered hand, and frostily touching my ear with the chill blue lips of eld."

Despite her best efforts Lucy can't help but hope for the fairy tale, and when Graham turns his attentions to another, she does feel the pain. The five precious letters that Graham wrote to her she symbolically buries in the bole of a tree so that she put them away from her and also keep them from the prying eyes of Mme Beck who is constantly going through the possessions of the teachers.

Bronte Letter

Charlotte Bronte became infatuated with a Belgian Professor and wrote him a series of love letters. He became incensed with this unsolicited attention and tore them to pieces. The professor's wife saved them from the trash and sewed them together for posterity. Here is an article giving a few more details. http://www.independent.ie/todays-pape... The wife, I can only assume, was a Bronte fan and may have been flattered that Charlotte found her husband attractive.

I was rather shocked to find that Villette has not been hashed and rehashed by Hollywood. With all the films based on Jane Austen's work and on the works of the other Bronte sisters why has Villette been ignored? There was a five part mini-series back in the 1970s starring Judy Parfitt as Lucy Snowe. I couldn't find any usable stills from that series to include in my review. Netflix does not have the series available. I can only hope it has not been neglected and been allowed to disintegrate

Judy Parfitt

There was also a BBC radio production done in 1999 with Catherine McCormack supplying the voice of Lucy Snowe.

Catherine McCormack

Villette was published in 1853 and was the last novel published during her lifetime. Charlotte had finally married in 1854 and became pregnant almost immediately. She suffered from incessant nausea and frequent fainting spells. Charlotte died with her unborn child in 1855 just short of her 39th birthday.

Photo of Charlotte Bronte circa 1854

Charlotte Bronte explores the psychological implications of being an outsider. The anguish, the dashing of hope, the moments of despair, and yet the haunting specter of expectations keep Lucy attempting to achieve a life filled with love and happiness. She does, as the novel concludes, get an opportunity to fulfill her dreams and gain not only independence but a chance at love. “His mind was indeed my library, and whenever it was opened to me, I entered bliss.” I have read that other reviewers felt the novel ended abruptly, and I too wanted more than just the sliver of explanation that was given at the end of the novel, but I think that has more to do with the way we feel about Lucy Snowe than it does about disappointment in Charlotte Bronte's plotting. Highly recommended.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,406 reviews11.6k followers
September 21, 2010
Still 5 stars...

I loved this novel. Obsessive reader as I am, I feel simply obligated to consume all kinds of reviews and discussions after finishing a book that left me in awe and baffled. This time I even ventured into the territory of critical analyses and interpretations. Many things came up during my quest to find out what people think of the heroine of Villette and the book as a whole - that this is a novel about a woman who fights to attain her independence, that Lucy Snowe is a liar, that almost all characters in the book - M. Paul, Pauline, Ginevre, Dr John - are representations of different sides of Lucy's (possibly schizophrenic) personality, that Villette is just a more depressing rehash of Jane Eyre, some other stuff that I don't even have a mental capacity to fully understand and reproduce here.

But I am a simple person, for me Villette is a story of a woman who was severely traumatized by deaths of her family at a young age and who, being introverted by nature, under the pressure of her misfortunes closes herself to the outside world completely. Lucy's whole life purpose is to guard herself from possible heartbreaks, to create a facade of serenity and unfeeling. But the strength of her passionate nature, her vivid internal life are such that suppressing them is impossible. The entire book is Lucy's never ending struggle to keep up her walls, not to let anyone in, not to feel, not to hope, not to love, not to get attached, not to reveal her true self in its clever, opinionated, passionate, desiring, jealous, petty glory. Does the heroine attain her freedom in the end? Does she escape a prison of her self-imposed loneliness? Yes, she does, but not for long. The person who sees and loves Lucy the way she is, who helps her not only financially, but psychologically, is given and taken away. And once again, Lucy is guarded and telling us her story, never allowing herself and us to see the true extent of her despair, unhappiness, and loneliness. But even what is hinted at is heartbreaking.

I loved this novel, loved it in spite of the numerous contrived coincidences, untranslated French dialog and sparse plot. Villette is a study of a woman's complex inner world and as such it is remarkable.

However there is another (sort of voyeuristic) reason why the book affected me so much. It is claimed to be heavily autobiographical and I find myself intrigued by Charlotte Brontë. I want to know this woman. How much of the book was real? Did the extent of Charlotte's loneliness and desire to be loved matched Lucy's? Was M. Heger, her real life professor, just like M. Paul? Did he awaken her soul, played with her and then discarded her when the affair interfered with his married life? Was M. Heger's wife as manipulative as Madame Beck? Did Charlotte ever regret refusing several marriage proposals to instead pine over men utterly unattainable? Did she blame herself for her inability to be happy? Why didn't she allow Lucy her happy ending? Did she think financial security was the maximum a woman like her could ever hope for and love was impossible?

I am off to try to find at least some answers to these questions...
Profile Image for Kelly.
889 reviews4,129 followers
March 21, 2014
This book is better than Jane Eyre, guys. This is where Charlotte Bronte shows her real brilliance. I hovered between giving this two stars and four for about half the book because I really wasn't sure what was going on beneath the surface. But then I figured out that I was stupid and didn't see half of the things that Charlotte Bronte had done. She's brilliant. Her narrator is completely unreliable. She's a tease. She withholds. She doesn't tell us the lines we wish most to hear. She deals with feelings that should have fulsome paragaphs in oblique, obscuring half sentences. Fulsome paragraphs are written on subjects that one would not think of as half so important to a ladies' novel. The nature of God, the debate between Protestantism and Catholicism, Truth and Lies, the worst faults of humankind. These are all dealt with. She's also able to switch focuses, from far away observation, as if she is telling a fairy tale, to a prose that is close and intimately involved. Existentialist thoughts wind through here, religious rebellion against the existence of God, liberation of women.. a lot of things that a woman in 1853 probably shouldn't have been writing about.

Lucy Snowe, the main character and narrator, has her faults. You will want to wring her neck. Not only for what she teases us with, but what she says. Her always forebearing attitude, her martyrdom. The sense of how impressed with herself she is at times, all her protestations to the contrary. Secretly holding herself rather above the company, to steal a line from another famous female. But let's also remember that Jane Eyre isn't all that likeable for most of the book either. Lucy is as difficult to like.

The end is fascinating. To give away just a little bit of the book, she does not get the ending that one expects from Romantic books. The ending is a question mark. The reader can make of it what they will. She has no illusions, but we can have ours. Her happiness is completely different: solitary, alone, quiet... it provides a fascinating read though a feminist lens. I'd say the end has a bit of a message like 'A Room of One's Own,' but decades earlier, and with an appropriate veil. Interesting to note, the same male enabler is necessary, but it meets with a different end here.
Happiness is not what one thinks it is.

I really do have to warn that this novel is about repression and oppression and it reads like it too. The breaks out of this endless cycle are few and far between. It can be difficult to trudge through, as difficult as it is for Lucy to make it through. I made it by figuring out how Charlotte Bronte was playing with the reader, though. Pay attention to details. She will mention them and perhaps explain them chapters later, but not connect them for us. Victorian conventions are satirized gently and taken to task. I believe Charlotte Bronte is somewhat taking herself to task for believing the ridiculous things that women were encouraged to indulge in.

... and I've just noticed that I wrote this review sounding rather like a silly victorian writer. Oops.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews50 followers
September 18, 2021
(Book 891 from 1001 books) - Villette, Charlotte Brontë

Villette is an 1853 novel written by English author Charlotte Brontë.

After an unspecified family disaster, the protagonist Lucy Snowe travels from her native England to the fictional French-speaking city of Villette to teach at a girls' school, where she is drawn into adventure and romance.

Villette was Charlotte Brontë's fourth novel, it was preceded by The Professor (her posthumously published first novel, of which Villette is a reworking), Jane Eyre, and Shirley.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز نوزدهم ماه می سال 1988میلادی

عنوان: ویلت، اثر: شارلوت برونته، ناشر تهران، اکباتان، مترجم: فریده تیموری، سال 1365؛ چاپ دیگر نشر تهران، بینش، چاپ دوم سال 1369؛ چاپ سوم 1370؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، ناشر نشر پیمان، سال 1371؛ در 474ص؛ تهران، دبیر، 1389؛ شابک 9786005955507؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 19م

عنوان: ویلت، اثر: شارلوت برونته، مترجم: رضا رضایی؛ ناشر تهران، نشر نی، 1390؛ در 712ص؛ شابک 9789641852391؛ چاپ دوم 1391؛ چاپ سوم 1392؛ چاپ چهارم 1394؛ چاپ پنجم 1395؛ چاپ هفتم 1397؛ چاپ هشتم 1399؛

عنوان: ویلت، اثر: شارلوت برونته، تهران، ناشر نشر روزگار، مترجم: مرضیه خسروی، سال 1372؛ چاپ دیگر 1393؛ در 672ص؛ شابک9789643745202؛

روایتی از مشکلات یک خانواده است؛ راوی و قهرمان داستان «لوسی» نام دارد، و سفرش به شهری که ساخته ذهن نویسنده است، به محور داستان تبدیل میشود؛ - «ویلت» عنوان چهارمین رمان منتشر شده از «شارلوت برونته»، و البته آخرین اثر، در زمان حیات ایشان نیز هست؛ «شارلوت برونته» در این اثر چنان هنرنم��یی می‌کنند، و چنان تأثیری بر خوانشگر خویش برجای می‌گذارند، که بسیاری از نقادان آن را حتی از «جِین اِیر» هم برتر دانسته‌ اند؛ «دیوید لاج»، نظریه‌ پرداز ادبی و نویسنده کنونی، باور دارد که «ویلِت» پخته‌ ترین اثر «شارلوت برونته» است، و نمونه ی کلاسیکی ست، از آنچه در نقد ادبی به «آشنایی‌ زدایی» معروف است؛ ایشان می‌گویند: «ویلِت» کتابی است اصیل، نه به این معنا که «شارلوت برونته» چیزی ابداع کرده، که پیشینه نداشته، بلکه به این معنا که کاری کرده، تا خوانشگرها چیزها و کارها را همان‌طور که هستند، ادراک کنند، نه آن‌طور که از پیش می‌شناختند، و به آن خو گرفته‌ اند.؛ یعنی نویسنده از شیوه‌ های مرسوم و معهود در بازنمایی واقعیت فراتر رفته است.؛ «ویلِت» رمان تأثیرگذاری است درباره ی فروخوردن احساس، و تاب آوردن در برابر فشارهای بی‌امان، که «لوسی اسنو (قهرمان داستان)» با پایداری و شکیبایی تحسین‌ برانگیزی، آن را از سر می‌گذراند؛ «لوسی اسنو» نه‌ تنها با قید و بندهای نظام اجتماعی، روبرو می‌شود، بلکه در عین حال، می‌خواهد که دوست بدارد، و دوستش بدارند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 05/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 26/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for William2.
758 reviews3,079 followers
August 26, 2019
With this, I think, fourth reading, the book reconstitutes itself utterly fresh yet familiar. I still find it surprising in ways I could not have appreciated earlier, as if another layer of the narrative complexity were revealing itself. It seems logical to reread books an author has put through multiple drafts. If reading is a parallel act of creation, rereading is to contrast multiple impressions over time. Villette is my favorite Victorian novel. The story has a long fuse, but that’s typical of its vintage. What is atypical—and thrilling—is the manner in which the author ceaselessly unravels the skein of character, never exhausting it. Just dazzling.

Here’s the romantic crux of the novel: Lucy Snowe is smart but not very attractive and she’s mad about her godmother’s son, Dr. John, who is enormously kind but really can’t give her a second thought as a love interest. At the same time, as a friend of the family, Lucy’s there to watch Dr. John pining after one woman, who’s quickly shown to be a vicious flirt, and then another, more worthy of his attentions. Amid all this Lucy Snowe insists on remaining nice. By that I mean she is fair-minded to Dr. John’s love interests, for she interacts with them in the everyday world, and despite her maddening solitude, will never turn bitter or vindictive. In fact, she’s friends with them. This makes for dramatic tension that is through-the-roof! Neither will she natter at Dr. John and plague him with her emotions; she values him too much as a friend and intellectual equal. In the end it is this stability of character, despite her overwhelming and at times soul-crushing loneliness, that is Lucy’s triumph. Though she will never see herself this way, the reader, whom she often exhorts by name, surely does.

Then you have Lucy’s encounters with the not-to-be-endured M. Paul, a fellow teacher in the girls’ school, who seems to want to be the sole representative of all intellectual misogyny of his era—c. 1830. He is snide, sneering, bitter, and jealous, with an overbearing opinion about everything, especially a woman’s place in the world. He and Lucy are at a kind of constant verbal fisticuffs. We come to see him as the sad little punctilious man he is, as does the redoubtable Lucy, who is not snide or sneering or bitter, but who demands respect. Some of their exchanges become hilariously funny. Then we get M. Paul’s horrendous backstory—death of fiancé, stern Roman Catholic, etc—and we see why he is what he is. Though not a priest, M. Paul has taken a vow of celibacy. No wonder he’s so miserable! The way this tempestuous relationship contorts and resolves is a literary wonder. What a piece of shrewd insight is the indefatigable M. Paul!

As a smart and resourceful woman Lucy Snowe is arguably without parallel in Victorian literature.
If life be a war, it seemed my destiny to conduct it single-handed. (p. 391)
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
469 reviews3,258 followers
June 26, 2020
Lucy Snowe a plain -looking quiet 23-year- old intelligent woman in need of money and help, ( stating it mildly) she has no family left in England in an era before Victoria came to the throne, her godmother Mrs. Bretton who lived in a small town ironically named Bretton, has moved to colossal London with her handsome son John Graham, no way to find the widow there. Still Lucy is not without skill, she is a capable resourceful nevertheless almost destitute lady gathering all her few pitiful coins and decides boldly to cross the English Channel to seek fortune there, in a foreign land... mad or brilliant idea the future will tell. Arriving in the exciting, prosperous, glamorous capital city of Villette , (Brussels, Belgium) searching for lodging in a recommended inn, she stumbles among the thick dark ... the black gloom the unlighted ominous roads and shadows agitated, lost...some unknown men following...coming to a rather peculiar house...knocking ...the door finally opens... This is Madame Beck's school for girls, and the owner very shrewd an attractive widow in her late 30's wants an Englishwoman to take care of her three little precious daughters, luckily Lucy gets the job, but first the unpleasant dismissal of the current holder of the position an alcoholic lady, who drank one too many bottles. In a short time another great unexpected opportunity unfolds, the English teacher doesn't show up for work Madame Beck is not happy, this has occurred too often the owner of the prestigious establishment is strict, unforgiving and the lazy teacher will be the same soon (unhappy); dragging the petrified Lucy into the classroom full of young, intimidating girls and says teach...sink or swim...she floats. The new teacher slowly begins to feel comfortable, a natural instructor has ability, the students no longer are frightening. She begins to notice a professor M.Paul Emanuel, Madame Beck's extremely knowledgeable cousin, a ferocious man all around him ... they are scared of ( make that terrified ) little in stature, but big in power. Lucy becomes quite sick the school's regular doctor is away, a young English physician treats her at his home and seems familiar, so does the furniture...yes it's John Graham Bretton and his mother her godmother, the lonely woman has friends now. More acquaintances from her youth found in Villette, little, sweet, Polly Home the six- year- old who lived in Mrs.Bretton's house a short time and her rich father also, is now 17 a countess with new names, de Bassompierre inherited from aristocratic relatives on the continent...Love will complicate life as it will do forever, these people fall an arise seek new partners, the eternal bumpy journey in search of the unreachable happiness, contentment is it an illusion?..Yet the trek will go on and on... Charlotte Bronte's second best book, some heretics say her masterpiece but they are in the minority...
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews632 followers
May 1, 2016
Having read Jane Eyre recently for the first time, ...it was suggested I read Villette....
A fantastic Kindle-Freebie!!!

I thought this story was terrific ...equally as good as Jane Eyre.
Lucy Snowe....lonely, introverted, .....and somewhat emotionally unavailable....it's easy to feel empathy towards her... harder to understand what she is thinking. - yet...she was easy to relate to. I could understand her struggles of bumping up against isolation -- and doubting who she was.
Bronte touches on that insecure spot inside us which we all feel at times through Lucy.

Dramatic storytelling -lovely prose -and filled with thought and emotions. There were a couple of scenes where I was laughing out loud --at the same time there was sadness knowing that Lucy suffered. Her heart and spirit were good - big- yet without having a vivacious personality, or being an electric extroverted charmer....her gifts, intelligence, we're not easily visible. As the reader...we are privileged to look deeper into her soul --
We see an endearing woman - a woman with moral integrity, inner strength....but sad!

Beautiful and heartbreaking.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,682 followers
January 3, 2018
I finished this last night and I'm STILL ANGRY.


I mean, seriously. I would also like to sit down with the person who wrote the introduction and talked about how Villette is so much better than Jane Eyre. I would like to speak to this person about their drug habit, and how it's affecting their work performance. Because . . . WHAT . . . did I just read? And WHY have so many of my friends given this book 5 stars?

Now, as some of you may know, I love Jane Eyre. I mean, I LOVE JANE EYRE. It is without a doubt in my top ten books of all time. And I love it not because of the romance, but because I love Jane. Jane is not afraid to speak her mind. Jane is not afraid to seek out love. Jane is not afraid to say, I respect myself too damn much to be your mistress, even though you are a sexy beast and I want you. Jane is an artist. Jane is a loyal friend. Jane is amazeballs.

Villette is about Lucy Snowe. Lucy Snowe doesn't talk a lot. Years worth of stuff happens to her and she goes, Meh, well, that was a thing. Lucy is easily irritated by people, and enjoys being alone (which I did appreciate), and Lucy is much put upon by people who sort of use her and abuse her, take advantage of her retiring nature, send her letters and buy her gowns when they remember her, drop her when they are busy with other people. Lucy likes walking around in gardens, and she's fine. Okay, sure. I was okay with all of this. It wasn't better than Jane Eyre, but it was okay.

I was okay with it right up until she starts tearing out her hair and flinging herself around sobbing because a guy who has been a COMPLETE ASSHOLE to her for the last 400 pages is going away. A guy who constantly harps on her clothes, and tells her that she should wear dull colors and no jewelry because she isn't meant for such things. A guy who insults her intelligence, treats her like a child or a pet, spies on her, steals from her, mocks her in public. A guy who rages at her and calls her a slut for exchanging letters with a male friend.

No. Just no. This man is the most horrible of all the horrible people who surround Lucy, and I am extremely upset that she didn't tell him not to let the door hit him on his (badly dressed, cigar-smelling) ass as he left.

Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,566 reviews1,895 followers
October 29, 2020
I finished Jane Eyre and I knew what I was going to write, I finish Villette and I am quite unclear.

My initial expectation was that it would repeat the earlier story: woman, abused childhood, education, passionate love, obstacle, punishments and rewards. Perhaps in large it does. The madwoman in the attic motif is repeated, this something that lodged in Bronte's imagination.

Again the pathological sense of difference between the British and the French, more specifically between the Protestant and the Catholic. It is hard for me to know if this simply reflected the dominant social attitudes of British shortly after Catholic emancipation or the particular world of Haworth Parsonage, in particular the Irish background of father Bronte. An interesting result of this is that Bronte, or more accuracy her narrator, Lucy Snowe, comes across as a kind of Dostoevsky - a person who going abroad was energised by their immense dislike of foreigners. Escape aboard does not represent freedom, new perspectives, a new mode of living. Instead for much of the novel it is a kind of exile.

I read in the introduction how the Brontes already as children had a passionate identification with the Duke of Wellington and liked to indulge themselves in violent fantasies involving the British army and horrible foreigners. I found it easy to go on to imagine Charlotte Bronte dressed as Britannia, but wielding a cat-o-nine-tails in place of the traditional trident, whipping her way through Belgium. With that firmly in mind the eventual relationship between Snowe and Monsieur Paul seems incredible, until I recall that Dostoevsky claimed that the two point on a circle, furtherest apart are almost the closest together, the intensity of her anti-foreigner feeling super charging her feelings for Monsieur Paul.

This for me is the major difficultly in reading Villette. The narrative voice is extremely powerful, but does that mean that it is wise to take it as representing the authorial point of view, and if not quite, then where do we draw the line between Lucy Snowe and Charlotte Bronte? Despite her, in many ways quite narrow background and Tory attitudes Bronte did have a passionate relationship with a Catholic foreigner, and a married one at that, plainly something of that relationship is reworked in her presentation of attraction in both Jane Eyre and Villette - the male interest is not handsome in either case but he has a presence.

Reading now the book says both something about the nature of relationships between men and women and between women and society (which is perhaps the same thing but writ large) as perceived by the woman from the Yorkshire parsonage.

The first point is grooming, or slightly more nicely put seduction. We see in the opening chapters the young John seduce the even younger Paulina, and then put her aside once a more interesting option comes along in the shape of his school chums, and I imagine judging from those first conversations between Paulina and Lucy that something similar happened between Lucy and John too. This seduction method of relieving boredom is not unique to the men, Ginevra acts similarly towards the men that she is interested in. The key point for me is that the emotional investment is uneven, the pursuer is calculating, the pursued whole-heartedly engaged.

This all seems masochistic to me, we have characters caught up in relationships from which they can only receive pain. Since they don't escape them we can only assume that they gain something meaningful from them. This is one of the difficulties for me reading the book - Lucy's sense of having any right to pleasure or satisfaction is so repressed that the reading experience became oppressive. Naturally in the context of the book this seems like a reasonable analysis, then again she is the narrator. The stories we tell about ourselves are traps as much as explanations or attempts at Enlightenment, the stories told by a first person narrator need to be felt through with a deeply critical eye.

Despite this this gloom, Snowe is less oppressed by social status, she is relatively egalitarian in her outlook - a link between her and Monsieur Paul. Despite the police regime of the school, it is the internal oppression that is effective, not apparently the structure of society. That comes across as being something like a climbing frame, albeit one too crowded to have much opportunity to move. I might take the view that the internal oppression is so severe that the plan to open her own school is hidden from herself until late in the book, if less charitable, that Bronte hit on it as a solution late on in the writing process. Either way this is a book with sudden movements after periods of oppressive continuity, like ice that suddenly cracks.

Snowe in that sense doesn't look like an accidental choice of name. If it suggests purity, it can also imply fragility, delicacy and cold. Despite which she endures unsnowlike through changes of the season down to the resigned, less than happy, more than unhappy ending, that Bronte manages to give her. An ending, on reflection, that offers more than Bronte's own.

In any case, I sense a reread, and that a different review will emerge after that.
Profile Image for Katie Lumsden.
Author 2 books2,967 followers
March 2, 2021
A great read as always . . . Although I must admit I am revising my opinion that it is even better than Jane Eyre.
Profile Image for Meredith Holley.
Author 2 books2,273 followers
May 12, 2012
It is not possible for me to talk about this book without somehow spoiling it. I’ll hide the main spoilers, but there are some pretty awesome twists and turns in this book, so I recommend reading it with eyes that are innocent of review spoilers.

I have had this weird experience lately where books or movies or TV I watch are almost always either uncannily similar to my life – like, exact words I’ve said recently or experiences I’ve had – or totally offensive and appalling to me. I think it is doing damage to my nervous system. I have a weak and brooding constitution, anyway, so recovery calls for those new episodes of Arrested Development to come out ASAP. No, jk, I don’t have a weak and brooding constitution, but seriously, I may take to swooning and weeping soon enough if this crazy pendulum doesn’t stop swinging so wildly.

Villette was the uncannily similar variety of story. It is so eerie to read books from almost two hundred years ago and see my own thoughts and experiences. It is both comforting and totally exhausting – comforting because we have always been like this; exhausting because, well, we have always been like this. Bronte’s description of Lucy waiting by the phone for a dude to call, or, in her case, by the door for a letter to arrive, is chilling. Lucy’s conversation with Dr. John, when she points out the hypocrisy of his ability to see shallowness in men but not women, is absolutely hilarious. Lucy’s delicacy about describing her own loneliness is beautiful. Charlotte Bronte writes a really killer antiheroine, and it is always easier to identify with an antiheroine than a heroine, I think, because it is easy to see our own flaws.

While this book easily stands alone as a lovely study on humanity, it also evoked comparisons to Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice for me. It was the last book Bronte published before she died. As is so common, Villette, the later book, is a less tight story than Jane Eyre – it was more meandering, and where Bronte wants to dwell, she will dwell. In some ways, though, I think Villette is more successful than Jane Eyre in distinguishing antihero from hero because Bronte is kinder to the heroes in Villette and lets me feel a little bitter at them without really despising them here. Dr. John, in contrast to St. John, does not creep me out. Paulina is a traditionally heroic heroine. This works in Villette because it provides a more clear contrast between the traditional hero’s story and Lucy’s antiheroine story. On the other hand, Jane Eyre allows flaws in everyone, whether they are golden or dark, so that has a nice subtlety. At the same time that Jane and Rochester are the more clear antiheroes, St. John is so determined to crush feelings and be unhappy that he is not so much the golden hero as Dr. John. In Villette there is a clear line between hero and antihero; in Jane Eyre the line is more blurred, though the physical descriptions signal a distinction. It might not be useful, though, to compare the two books because they are both wonderful, and I don't know that I prefer the clear distinction or the blurring.

In some ways, I think this story is a Bronte Pride and Prejudice. All of the couples are parallels: . In many ways that comparison fails because the interaction of the characters in P&P forms a cohesive plot, and Villette is not really about any particular plot, I think, but it was interesting to see similar couples described through more brutal eyes.

Both Charlotte and Emily Bronte, also, always seem more exotic than Austen because the aesthetics of their heroes are described so much more like an emo band. While Austen captures that subtle loneliness of unreliable family, the Brontes go straight for explicit isolation in a cruel world. I doubt I could love either Austen or the Brontes so much without the other. And it was beautiful to read about the couples from Pride and Prejudice with the severity and stifled animal cry of Charlotte Bronte. I see Virginia Woolf’s point that sometimes Bronte’s failures as an editor interfere with the story in a way that you don’t see in Austen, but it is still beautiful.

Probably my favorite thing about this book is Lucy’s shiftiness as a narrator. This girl is going to tell you what she wants you to know and she is going to leave out whatever the fuck she wants. It was totally hilarious that she . That little minx! (As they say.) And then the way she ends the story is just .

I was not in love with any of the heroes of this story, and I kind of liked that, too. It was more like a soul-mate friend, of whom I am completely in awe, telling me about the people she loved, and how she understood them and their faults, than a con game of trying to get me to fall in love myself. It is interesting because usually we are meant to fall in love with the romantic lead (and I’mma be honest, I totally swoon for Rochester), but I do not almost ever swoon for my irl friends’ love stories. In this way, I felt that Lucy was completely her own person, and even though I identified with her in this sometimes-creepy way, she was not a stand-in for me in the love story. I thought , but that was fine because Lucy was smart about all of them. Honestly, I didn’t notice for a long time, and I am usually really good at picking up on romantic leads, so when I re-read I will have to pay better attention to what he does in the early part of the novel.

I really loved this book. As I got to the end, I panicked a little because I remembered that I had always partly been reluctant to read it because I will use up the possibility for a new Bronte story soon, and what a sad, bleak time that will be. I still have a couple left, though, so I will hoard those for later. I wish Bronte would email me new stories from her austere, Protestant heaven.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
530 reviews497 followers
January 4, 2023
My dear Charlotte, I kept my promise and read Villette and have now completed the Bronte canon. And I'm sorry to say that I was bitterly disappointed. You know that I enjoy your sisters' work more than yours, so you might shrug it off. But then, I have given you merit when it was due. However, Villette left me completely at a loss on what to think of you. It is your final work, and I expected a more mature outcome. But it turned out to be the most poorly written of your lot.

The novel started well. I'll give you that credit. And I enjoyed the set in England. I found it interesting and thought this work is promising. But with the shift in the setting to Villette, France, things went down for me. The unbiased, receptive tone you adopted at the beginning was replaced by a biased opinionated tone through the words, actions, and thoughts of Lucy Snow. You committed two wrongs by doing that. One is you destroyed the respect that I had for Lucy Snow, and the second is you completely destroyed my interest in Lucy's story. I didn't care how it goes or what will happen to her. You'll ask me then what kept me going? And I'll tell you honestly, it was only because I wanted to complete the Bronte canon. In Villette, I saw a repetition of The Professor. The similar troubles when working and living in a foreign land, the discrimination and the clash between Catholicism and Protestantism sounded familiar. But while Mr. Crimsworth's voice was moderate and more tolerant, Lucy's was too loud and harsh. She was intolerant and unsympathetic which was unbecoming of her. To tell you the truth Charlotte, Lucy Snow was the worst protagonist of your creation.

There is another thing that worked negatively for me. And that is how you treated Monsieur Paul, the second important character in your story. You painted him like a devil in the beginning, creating a dislike for him in the reader's mind. And then, towards the end, you sainted him. I'm glad you turned him into a likable character towards the end, but did you really have to blight his character first to make it venerable later? Further, you've done in Villette what you've not done in your other three novels. You've left a vague ending, letting the reader interpret whether Lucy had a happily ever after or not. I didn't like that vagueness either. I mean, after enduring it to the end, I felt I deserved to know a more conclusive ending.

Before I wind up, I must also make an observation of your writing here. I know your preference for flowery prose, and I have admired its beauty in other places. But not in here. In Villette, it felt heavy and verbose. And the narrative style you adopted with the liberal usage of short imperative sentences was too grating on my nerves.

Now that I've read all your work, Charlotte, my favourite out of all is Shirley. I have my own criticism on your Jane Eyre, but it's a commendable work and I will readily give its due. I'll pass The Professor. It was alright. But your Villette, as I've already said, is the poorest product of your pen.

More of my reviews can be found at http://piyangiejay.com/
Profile Image for Helene Jeppesen.
688 reviews3,624 followers
December 27, 2022
This was a really beautiful journey which often left me puzzled, but in the end I absolutely loved it. Lucy, our main character, is determined to become independent and make something of her life, and so she goes from England to France, more specifically to the village of Villette.
"Jane Eyre" is amongst my favourite books, so I was very interested to dive further into Charlotte Brontë's authorship. I did see some similarities between the two works; Charlotte Brontë likes to surprise her readers and to bring her protagonists on quite a journey. When you finish her books, you feel like you've been through so much, even though all you've been doing is to sit in your couch and read.
I must admit that this book has its weak spots and dragging descriptions (which were nonetheless beautiful and fascinating!), but my overall impression of this book is a very positive one, and the ending left me with a smile on my face and a satisfied heart :)
Profile Image for Margaret.
1,035 reviews332 followers
August 11, 2010
I can do no better to begin with than to quote George Eliot, who upon reading Villette called it "a still more wonderful book than Jane Eyre".

Villette is darker and more realistic than Jane Eyre, and more autobiographical (and perhaps thus even more powerful). Drawing on Charlotte Brontë's experiences in Brussels, Villette tells the story of Lucy Snowe, who leaves England in flight from a shadowy, unhappy past; she comes to "Villette" (i.e., Brussels) and becomes an English teacher at Madame Beck's school, where she meets the mercurial, autocratic Monsieur Paul (based on Constantin Heger, the married schoolmaster with whom Charlotte fell in love during her time in Brussels).

Lucy is a complex character: repressed, yet deeply emotional, cold on the outside (like her name), but fiery within. Her narration is reticent; unlike Jane Eyre, she holds back, never telling the reader everything, rarely allowing herself to show her feelings. A key passage occurs relatively early on the book, soon after Lucy has begun work at the school:

"Oh, my childhood! I had feelings: passive as I lived, little as I spoke, cold as I looked, when I thought of past days, I could feel. About the present, it was better to be stoical; about the future -- such a future as mine -- to be dead. And in catalepsy and a dead trance, I studiously held the quick of my nature."

I do admit that Villette is not as easy to read as Jane Eyre. Lucy's reticence as a narrator forces the reader to reach out further to engage with her; yet her depth of feeling and her humor are engaging. I defy anyone (all right, anyone who likes Victorian fiction) to read fifty pages of Villette and be able to put it down; every time I read it, I feel as though I could pick it right back up after finishing, start it over, and be just as enthralled as though it had been years since I'd read it.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
464 reviews607 followers
May 20, 2017
No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness. What does such advice mean? Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure. Happiness is a glory shining far down upon us out of Heaven. She is a divine dew which the soul, on certain of its summer mornings, feels dropping upon it from the amaranth bloom and golden fruitage of Paradise.

I love when this paradoxical life brings me a book laced with "composite and contracted" meaning, one of philosophical ponder and pathos; one wherein solitude grasps for Hope in order to avoid Despair and longing is elucidated and layered. Dreamlike and peculiar at times, a revelation of inner thought, the reflective narrative never ceases to make its reader consider life and its oddities, life and its happiness and pain. At a time in my life when I'm at a crossroads with two interesting professional decisions that were forced upon me by this life, I am humbled that Villette occupied my still moments.

This is the story of what happens when a woman finds herself in the midst of a strange community, with aloof, pretentious, and judgmental people; when she must ground herself in an academic environment that overflows with pretenses and mockery. This novel's trajectory is what happens when love is unrequited, for it demands social status from the one it inhabits. These three meandering volumes make lucid the loneliness that blooms within, one that stems from loss of family and identity.

I smiled when I read Bronte's explanation for Lucy Snowe because while I loved Polly, I had a deep admiration for Lucy's steadfastness and professional journey, and I also admired Charlotte Brontë who made no apologies for her character. Here is how Brontë describes Lucy in a letter:
You say that she may be thought morbid and weak, unless the history of her life be more fully given. I consider that she is both morbid and weak at times; her character sets up no pretensions to unmixed strength, and anybody living her life would necessarily become morbid.

And in a letter to her publisher Brontë wrote: "I greatly apprehend, however, that the weakest character in the book is the one I aimed at making the most beautiful..."

I never really did understand, and in fact detested, Paul Emmanuel's patronizing ways in the first part of the novel. It was interesting to learn that he stands in for Constantin Heger, the husband of the school director that Brontë worked for. Graham, however, seems like a stud - caring, kind, generous, intelligent - and it is easy to see how Lucy would have fallen in love with him. However, to say much about plot would 'spoil' the story and mislead the reader, for this narrative is an extension of memory, a sequence of consciousness that occurs through contemplation and reflection, which makes the plot both surprising and revealing.
Profile Image for Jesús De la Jara.
728 reviews91 followers
May 22, 2017
"No dejes que piense mucho en ellos, ni demasiado a menudo, ni con adoración -imploré-; deja que me conforme con un pequeño trago de esta corriente de vida: no dejes que corra sedienta y me acerque impetuosa a sus acogedoras aguas; no dejes que imagine su sabor más dulce que el de los manantiales que brotan de la tierra. ¡Oh! ¡Maldita sea! ¡Ojalá pueda contentarme con una relación esporádica y cordial! poco frecuente, transitoria, nada absorbente y tranquila, ¡muy tranquila!"

Ok, es una novela que me gustó mucho, aún así me sigue gustando más "Jane Eyre", aunque tal vez sea por razones personales, de simpatía por la protagonista y por los eventos interesantes.
Villette es una obra que muestra nuevamente toda la virtud para escribir de Charlotte Bronte; a pesar de sus múltiples referencias bíblicas (es lo único digamos que no me gusta tanto pues hace ver el relato un poco limitado), describe de una manera excepcional tanto el paisaje y las circunstancias externas (típico del romanticismo) como el interior de los personajes, obviamente de la personaje principal, pues el relato está hecho en primera persona y me resulta increíble que me pueda gustar tanto a pesar de que ese estilo no es costumbre actualmente.
El inicio de la novela, es el mejor que he leído hasta el momento, un ejemplo de comienzo romántico rememorando recuerdos infantiles y tristes. Eso hizo que me guste mucho la novela.
Trata sobre la vida, contada en primera persona, de Lucy Snowe, quien luego de pasar una temporada con su madrina se ve obligada a buscar un nuevo destino en Villette (nombre falso que pone a la ciudad de Bruselas, en Bélgica, donde la autora pasó una temporada como profesora), allí logra un trabajo como profesora de inglés en un Pensionnat, donde hay alumnas internas y externas que reciben su educación.
Creo que Lucy Snowe sigue la evolución de la propia Charlotte, es una mujer quizás que le gusta más observar que actuar, con un grado de cinismo e ironía propia de una mujer que ya abandonó casi toda esperanza. Sin embargo, los momentos que más me gustaron fue cuando una luz de emoción brillaba en ella y sus pensamientos expresaban mucha ternura, ilusión pero también sufrimiento. Ya en el Pensionnat las cosas no son tan fáciles como parecen pues tenemos el instrumento gótico nuevamente (una monja que aparece y desaparece) y muchos personajes interesantes como la mimada Ginevra Fanshawe, el educado y amable Dr. John, el soberbio profesor Emannuel y la directora Mme. Beck. No diré más.
No todas las relaciones amorosas me gustaron pero hay una que sí en especial y mucho. Es un relato magistral aunque muy pocas veces me aburrió, quizás no tiene la fuerza de "Jane Eyre", tiene otro matiz que va acorde a los cambios de la autora pero lo recomiendo de todas maneras. Lo reeleré alguna vez pues hay muchas frases memorables. Lástima que no esté tan difundida.
Profile Image for Araz Goran.
824 reviews3,631 followers
September 3, 2015

يا الله كيف لي أن أصف هذه الرواية الجميلة..
إبداع من زمن الأدب الجميل.. حيث الكلمات تخرج بنقاء ورقة وإبداع لا مثيل لها، كأنها نسمة هواء عطرة تنتعش الروح بعدها وتنطلق بالفكر الى مجال آخر خارج نطاق هذا العالم المشوه.. هذه الرواية هي نقطة عبور الى الماضي الأدبي، حيث الأدب كان يعبر عن ذاته، حيث الكلمات المرتعشة تحت ريشة الفنان.. لم يكونوا في الماضي إدباء فحسب بل فنانون ،مارسوا فنهم بالقلم وبدنيا الكلمات..


شارلوت برونتي المولودة سنة 1816 م - في يوركشاير - بإنكلترا الشاعرة والأدبية والروائية الخالدة في تاريخ الأدب الانكليزي بأعمالها التي تتناول الجانب الإجتماعي والديني للمجتمع الانكليزي التي ترتكز على الجانب القوطي أساساً في بناء رواياتها.. من أشهر أعمالها رواية (جين آيير) التي كتبتها سنة 1847 م..

رواية (فيليت) هي آخر ما كتبت شارلوت والتي إنتهت منها سنة 1853 م..

تتحدث رواية (فيليت) عن قصة فتاة إسمها (لوسي سناو) حيث ترعرعت هذه الفتاة في الريف الانكليزي وعملت كخادمة ثم مربية للأطفال في منزل النبلاء والاثرياء في قريتها تلك..

ظلت (لوسي سناو) تنتقل من منزل إلى آخر إلى أن أنتهى الأمر بموت عرابتها، فقررت الهجرة إلى فرنسا بحثاً عن عمل آخر وفرصة آخرى للحياة..

أبحرت (لوسي سناو) الى فرنسا، شقت طريقها أخيراً الى إحدى البلدات في بلجيكا وهي بلدة (فيليت) حيث دارت معظم أحداث الرواية في تلك البلدة الهادئة..

إبتدأت (لوسي سناو) رحلتها في تلك البلدة بالعمل كمربية لإطفال السيدة (بيك) التي كانت تدير مدرسة داخلية للبنات وبمرور الأيام وجدت لوسي نفسها بمهنة التدريس ..

الرواية مليئة بالأحداث والمواقف وقصص الحب الجميلة لا تخلو من فكاهة وحزن وخيبة أحياناً.. رواية تجسد الجانب الاجتماعي والديني والأخلاقي لتلك الفترة وتظهر العلاقة بين أفراد الطبقات الإجتماعية وتسلط الضوء على حياة المثقفين والجانب الفكري والمعنوي لأبطال الرواية..


رحلة جميلة مع هذه الادبية الرائعة،، أتصور أني لن أنسى هذه الرواية ما حييت.. هذه الرواية لم تُكتب للنسيان بل كُتبت لتبقى خالدة على صفحات التاريخ الأدبي..


ملاحضة : ربما تكون هذه الرواية مملة بالنسبة للبعض خاصة للذين لم يقرؤوا في الأدب الكلاسيكي،، هي مغايرة تماماً لإسلوب الأدب الحديث ولغتها صعبة وخشنة بعض الأحيان وتحكي تفاصيل كثيرة داخل الرواية مع الأجواء الإرستقراطية التي لا تروق للبعض، لذلك لا أنصح بها للذين يعانون الملل في قراءة الروايات فهذا الرواية لا تصلح لهم..

Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
580 reviews4,087 followers
March 8, 2016


Este libro empezó para mi de manera errática y detestando a su protagonista, pero lo he terminado en medio de un absoluto enganche y admirando profundamente a Lucy Snowe.
Una obra de la que se pueden sacar mil lecturas, impresionante la psicología de los personajes y siempre como tema central la búsqueda de la independencia.

Más profunda, sobria, madura y compleja que Jane Eyre.
Profile Image for nastya .
450 reviews290 followers
November 8, 2022
The biggest detriment to this book is that it was written by the author of the passionate tour de force that is Jane Eyre. And I completely understand, it was like that for me around the time I was sixteen. I wanted another Jane Eyre and what I got was a slow and boring tale of a passive young woman. Bah! And the beauty of this book was entirely lost on me. Not this time!

This is Lucy Snowe’s story. The thing is, Lucy doesn’t want to tell you her story. She’ll be evasive, cryptic, she’ll feed you morsels of information and don’t ask for more. Lucy is lonely, deeply depressed and yet haughty and proud. She’s not the person who’ll ask for help, she’ll suffer in silence!

This is not a story that’ll propel you as if through the storm; no, it will slowly submerge you into the pool of honeydew and you’ll have to frequently get to the surface to take a breath.

This was obviously written by someone who experienced mental malady which makes perfect sense to me since Charlotte lost her brother and two sisters in the span of just one year. The deep exploration of Lucy's inner feelings will interest every reader who's interested in psychological. And that ending is gorgeous and melancholy.

Profile Image for Gabrielle.
1,018 reviews1,184 followers
January 15, 2021
”Happiness is not a potato”. No, indeed, Charlotte, it isn’t. One has to work at it a little.

I wondered, when I picked up “Villette”, if I would love it as much as I love “Jane Eyre” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...). It has, after all, quite a reputation as a more accomplished novel and while I can see the reasons behind that, my heart will forever belong to Jane. But I must say that as heroines go, Miss Bronte threw me a bit of a curve ball with Lucy Snowe. In many ways, Lucy is more realistic than Jane: she is a lot more human and much less romantic, but she is also much more layered and complicated.

Not that she is always pleasant, our Lucy: her story is one of disappointed hopes and abandonment issues. The people she cared for almost universally let her down, to the point where she simply has to assume no one cares. Every time she has let her guard down, she has regretted it bitterly. She is not traditionally attractive, has no fortune or prospects, is independent and proud… but pretty much left to fend for herself because she is surrounded by idiots. This is not an enviable position in that day and age, when having the effervescence of a Lizzie Bennett did more for you than having brains and a love of hard work. But there is a resilience to Lucy that commands respect: she puts one foot in front of the other, and she is genuinely happy when those she care for thrive.

With no relations or money, Lucy packs her bag and leaves jolly old England for Villette (a thinly disguised Brussells), where she manages to get a job as an English teacher in an girls' school. Over a period of about a year, she will fall in love twice, be reunited with old relations and make unlikely friends. But mostly, she'll learn that she can't really let life be something that happens to her.

I certainly related to Lucy more than I ever related to Jane, but she often rubbed me the wrong way. She doesn’t make things easy for herself, both out of a exaggerated sense of honesty, but also because she doesn’t seem to be bothered. Sometimes, I wanted to yell at her to just make a freaking effort already, but no, Miss Snowe is too smart to lower herself to play social games. Sigh!

Bronte's prose is always fantastic, and if you are a fan of Jane looking for something similar, while the story is completely different, the writing is just as rich, the emotions just as strong and the characters just as unique.
Profile Image for luce (that loser crying on the n° 2 bus).
1,438 reviews4,070 followers
August 28, 2021
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Even after a third reading I am still surprised by how much this novel resonates with me. A lot readers will start Villette expecting a rehash of Jane Eyre—a novel which I enjoyed but wasn't particularly taken by—which is a pity given that the narrative of Villette takes its reader through a much more labyrinthine path that the straightforward Bildungsroman of Jane Eyre.

“No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness. Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, ant tilled with manure. Happiness is a glory shining far down upon us out of Heaven. She is a divine dew which the soul, on certain of its summer mornings, feels dropping upon it from the amaranth bloom and golden fruitage of Paradise.”

From the first few chapters I fell in love with Villette.
Brontë's writing is so insightful that it is hard not to highlight, or make a note of, every single paragraph. She has a way with words, managing to orchestrate long yet fluid phrases, that beautifully convey the many nuanced feelings and thoughts of her protagonist as well as the different landscapes she navigates. She offers her readers intricate and sharp observations, vivid descriptions, thoughtful asides and complex character studies that struck me for their realism.
Villette's plot rests upon its narrator's interior struggle. In fact, this novel, is all about Lucy Snowe. A study of her psychology and of her shifting sense of self. Yet, even upon a third reading, she remains somewhat unknowable to me as she is careful to keep her feelings in check, and on more than one occasion she refrains from sharing certain knowledge with her readers (speaking of, there is an almost meta aspect to her narrative as she directly address readers and refers to scenes occurred in previous 'chapters').
Her self-division
“Oh, my childhood! I had feelings: passive as I lived, little as I spoke, cold as I looked, when I thought of past days, I could feel. About the present, it was better to be stoical; about the future–such as a future as mine–to be dead.”

Her unreliability seems a natural outcome of her not wanting to reveal herself completely to us and others, and perhaps by lying to her readers, she can also deceive herself. We never know why she has become so alienated from her feelings but given that even as a child she was self-possessed and quiet observer, it seems that it is merely an aspect of who she is.
This divide between duty and self-fulfilment, reason and feeling, is the main focus of the narrative. Brontë’s Lucy, similarly to her more famous literary sister Jane, is a woman living on the social margins of her society: an orphan with few living relations and or friends, she lacks conventional beauty and the wealth necessary to be respected by society.
Lucy minimises the loss of her family, not wanting to dwell on how this affected her nor on the difficulties she experienced as an orphan, dismissing that period of her life as “a long time—of cold, of danger, of contention”. Her hardships go unheard since “to whom could [she] complain?” and so she grows accustomed to solitude believing that “there remained no possibility of dependence on others” .
The narrative that follows will see her confronted with different forms of femininity and womanhood
which are often embodied in the women she meets in England and in Villette.

“When I looked, my inner self moved; my spirit shook its always-fettered wings half loose; I had a sudden feeling as if I, who had never yet truly lived, were at last about to taste life: in that morning my soul grew as fast as Jonah's gourd.”

One of my favourite scenes sees our narrator rejecting ideals of femininity in a museum. One painting features a Cleopatra-like figure whose sumptuous body makes our protagonist at ill at ease; the other one demonstrates the traditional life of woman: a young and demure bride, a wife and mother, and finally a widow. Lucy, in the course of this maze-like narrative will demonstrate a headstrong will in that in spite of the concealment of her feelings she remains true to her self.
Her character is so real that I was inevitably drawn to feel what she felt: I wanted what she wanted, for I couldn't stand to see her unhappy.

“My state of mind, and all accompanying circumstances, were just now such as most to favour the adoption of a new, resolute, and daring–perhaps desperate–line of action. I had nothing to lose. Unutterable loathing of a desolate existence past, forbade return. If I failed in what I now designed to undertake, who, save myself, would suffer? If I died far away from–home, I was going to say, but I had no home–from England, then, who would weep?”

The ending is ambiguous and somewhat open-ended yet those last bittersweet pages soften the story's final blow.
The cast of characters is not necessarily likeable but I grew fond of them nonetheless, Lucy's banter with a certain professor and a rather spoiled pupil made for some truly entraining scenes. I appreciated how imperfect and sometimes idiosyncratic these characters were as these things made them all the more believable.
This novel is a beautifully written character study that plays around with Gothic and Romantic elements. There is great character development, shifting dynamics between friends and acquaintances, a painfully concealed and unrequited first love, and a series of feverous experiences which blur the line between reality and fantasy...Villette is a compelling portrait of a woman's shifting individuality.

DISCLAIMER: this novel is decidedly of its time so expect a lot of phrenological references (or viewing someone's physiognomy as indicative of their character), the majority of Catholics in this novel are definitely a wee bit fanatical, many annoying remarks—usually by men, but sometimes by women as well—regarding women (the weaker sex etc...), a major character owns a plantation in Guadeloupe and no one bats an eye about it (I definitely recommend Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy for those interested in postcolonial sort of retelling of Villette, it is a short but truly captivating read), people from France and Spain are often portrayed as 'other', even 'alien', and a little girl with learning disabilities is referred to as a 'cretin' and some other unpleasant terms.

Profile Image for Nancy.
434 reviews
April 3, 2011
Villette lacks the fire and passion of Jane Eyre.
Since we already know this is a fictionalized version of Charlotte Bronte's time in Brussels where she had some sort of relationship with the professor she worked for, this may be the reason for the tameness.
There are many similarities in the characters of Jane Eyre and Lucy Snowe in that they are orphans, they are loners, they yearn for love and, for much of the book, they love from afar with no hope of reciprocation. Villette is a colder book because I believe Charlotte Bronte was trying to put her real life love behind her by writing it out. I think it was done out of sadness, depression and loneliness and she built a wall between herself, her characters and her readers.

There is such a thread of "this doesn't really matter" running through it that it is hard to become close to the characters or care very much about what happens to them. If they don't care, why should we?

Villette also lacks the pace of Jane Eyre and plods through dreary days with long, boring musings and moralizing. I got weary of the sermons. It was as if Bronte wrote anything that came into her mind, avoiding the crux of the situation. When in Brussels, she fell in love with a married man, had no hope of ever having a life with him and returned home to Yorkshire alone and miserable. Then she tried to write a book with a "so what" attitude and that didn't work for me.
I just checked the reviews posted before mine, and feel like a salmon swimming upstream. Oh, well.
Profile Image for The Book Whisperer (aka Boof).
343 reviews235 followers
March 30, 2009
Reader, I heart Ms. Bronte! Reading Villette was like reading a huge epic that I was so emmersed in that I walked in Lucy Snowe's shoes, I felt what she felt. How many authors can do that to you?

Lucy Snowe is difficult to get to know at first. In fact, she is difficult to like. This is deliberate; she tells you about other people, what they think, what they feel, but precious little about herself, of whom she appears fiercely private. Only as the story unfolds does she start to let you in - I remember being surprised when she showed such tender, gentle thoughts and actions towards the sick daughter of her employer; that, I believe, was the first glimpse of emotion from Lucy and it really endeared me to her. Lucy Snowe's name was not an accident - Bronte toyed with Lucy Frost for a while before settling on Snowe. She also allows us to see her as others do: "Crabbed and crusty" said Ginevra, a pupil at the school, and "unfeeling thing that I was" written to her in a letter. The point is, she isn't unfeeling at all. She is lonely and trying to make her way in an unfamiliar world. Lucy's past is only hinted at but it appears to have been an unhappy one.

Brontes prose is gorgeous, Villette is such a richly embroidered account of a young woman trying to make a life for herself in a foreign country and fighting for independence and friendship. This book isn't a romance in the same way that Jane Eyre is. I wasn't sure for a long time who the leading man would be (in fact he doesn't even appear until the second half of the book). And it isn't love at first sight, we watch it grow.

I absolutely adored this book and it is now a firm favourtie of mine. I finished it last night and I finally closed the book in a daze. I don't want to give anything away, but I was not expecting what happended at the end at all. That came completely out of the blue for me.

Go ahead, indluge and enjoy!
Profile Image for Mary.
430 reviews787 followers
December 7, 2016
I really started to feel affection for Villette the first time Lucy Snowe tells the reader she knew something pivotal to the plot about six chapters ago but didn’t bother telling us. This trickery changed the way I was reading. Lucy Snowe was sneering at me and I hadn’t even noticed. I needed to pay attention! All those dark, brooding, anxious passages, the anguish, the loneliness…she only told us what she wanted us to know. A bitter, sly, dark, strong character. The ending sealed the deal for me. It’s brilliant.
Profile Image for Aubrey.
1,361 reviews795 followers
December 17, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Cindy Newton.
664 reviews129 followers
July 7, 2022
2nd Review

I do feel, going in on this second read, that I was better prepared for the tone of the novel. I do think it provides more complexity in the storyline--in Jane Eyre, everything is more cut and dried. I felt that Jane Eyre is more forthcoming in her narrative--you know how she's feeling and what she's thinking. With Lucy Snow, you don't. She hides her feelings and opinions from the reader. She doesn't lie--she just chooses not to share. There is more ambiguity about whether her presentation of things is accurate or skewed by her perspective.

There's definitely not as much drama as in Jane Eyre: no madwoman hidden in the attic, no escape in a thunderstorm (although Lucy does go through a weird, almost delusional experience at a Catholic church that lands her--with the same providential hand that guided Jane to her cousins' house--at her godmother's house to be tended), and no fire to remove the obstacle to her happiness at the end. The act of nature at the end of Villette, instead of removing the obstacles from Lucy's path, almost certainly destroy her happiness instead of ensuring it, but that is my opinion. It's definitely an ambiguous ending!

I did very much enjoy this reading and love this book! As usual, my reading experience was enhanced by sharing it with the group, the Victorians! Highly recommended!

Initial Review

I'm not sure how to write a review for this book--I don't think I'm even qualified to. Yes, I read it, but not as well as it deserved. I went into it lightly, assuming that it was a weaker, watered-down, inferior version of Jane Eyre. By the end, I realized that this book is a force unto itself. The force of this book is subtle, though; it doesn't smack you between the eyes, but rather creeps up on you stealthily, winding almost invisible tentacles around your consciousness, catching you up into the story before you know you've been caught. Like its protagonist, Lucy Snowe, it lurks quietly, just watching; also like Lucy, the story has a hidden power.

The story is the semi-autobiographical tale of Charlotte Bronte's unrequited love for her professor. The main character, Lucy Snowe, is an English orphan who flees England for the hope of adventure and a better life. She ends up in Villette, a fictional town that represents Brussels, where she takes a position in a girls' school as a teacher. She suffers an unrequited passion for one man, but ends by falling in love with another, who is ultimately a much better match for her.

Lucy is telling the story, but we are still kept in the dark quite a bit as she proves to be an unreliable narrator. Her refusal to acknowledge certain truths about herself, even to herself, helps to keep her audience confused and mystified by events.

All in all, I think this is a book that has hidden depths, and I feel that my own assumptions caused me to miss some of these layers of meaning. I need a re-read to really appreciate all that is there. When will that be? I have no idea, but I won't be able to do the book justice until then.
Profile Image for Duane.
828 reviews433 followers
May 22, 2017
I liked this novel, I think partly because I pictured Charlotte as the character of Lucy Snowe. I felt like it was almost semi-autobiographical in nature. But it's still not in the same league with Jane Eyre, which will forever be considered Bronte's masterpiece. I read where George Eliot and Virginia Woolf believe Villette was her best novel. But in my opinion Jane Eyre is the gold standard of classic English literature. But still, I give Villette 4 stars, certainly worth reading.
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