Book - 1993
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With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Sally Minogue, Department of English, Canterbury Christ Church University College. Arguably Bronte's most refined and deeply felt work, 'Villette' draws on her experiences as a teacher in Brussels, as well as her profound loneliness following the deaths of her siblings. It is a moving tale of repressed feelings and subjection to cruel circumstance and position, borne with heroic fortitude. Lucy Snowe, the narrator of 'Villette', flees from an unhappy past in England to begin a new life as a teacher at a French boarding school in the great cosmopolitan capital of Villette. Soon Lucy's struggle for independence is overshadowed by both her friendship with a worldly English doctor and her feelings for an autocratic schoolmaster. Bronte's strikingly modern heroine must decide if there is any man in her society with whom she can live and still be free. Rising above the frustrations of confinement within a rigid social order, it is the story of a woman's right to love and be loved. AUTHOR Charlotte Bronte(1816-1855) was oldest of the three Bronte sisters to achieve fame. Her first published novel 'Jane Eyre' remains her most popular work, but her subsequent books, 'Shirley', 'Villette' and the posthumously-published 'The Professor' are all highly rated.
Publisher: Ware, Hertfordshire [England] : Wordsworth Classics, 1993
ISBN: 9781853260728
Branch Call Number: BRO
Characteristics: 463 p. ;,20 cm


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Sep 06, 2017

"Jane Eyre" may be Charlotte Brontë's most famous work, but "Villette," written in 1853, may be her most poignant. It tells the story of a nearly impoverished young spinster Englishwoman, Lucy Snowe, who finds a job as a governess / teacher at a girls' boarding school in France - and finds herself caught in a love triangle. During this time, she struggles to hold on to her Protestantism in a town that is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic and faces constant pressure to convert - but over the course of the book she finds herself less resistant and more attracted to the faith. The Harper Classics edition I read did not have translations of French phrases and I had a not-so-fun time trying to recall my high school French to understand some of the conversations. That quibble aside, this is a beautifully written story about a 19th century feminist finding her place in the world, and deserves more attention.

Nov 16, 2016

I finished this book early this morning. Some books when I am finished reading them I put them down and find them easy to forget. Villette is not one of these books. I feel like Lucy Snowe is a friend who shared her most personal thoughts and fears with me and now that I finished the book, I have lost a friend. Charlotte Bronte's writing is wonderful, drawing you into the mid 19th century and the everyday life of Lucy Snowe. Highly recommend this wonderful book.

Oct 23, 2015

It took me a long time to finish this book, not necessarily because it was boring, but because it is so dense. Also, I had to keep flipping to the back to translate the French parts. I really wish this edition would use footnotes instead of endnotes, at least for translation. Anyway, the plot is really good. A young woman with no family, no money, no connections, decides to set out by herself to a town called Villette (which is based on Brussels in Belgium). She ends up becoming a teacher at a girls' school. The novel is based on her feelings; you discover early on that the character suffers from depression. It's not really a romance story. In fact, most of it is about an unrequited love that Lucy has for Dr. John and watching him fall in love with someone else. She does find someone else who she doesn't like at first, but later, she falls in love with him, only to lead to a tragic ending. The author does leave the ending ambiguous, but she originally meant it to be tragic. I would love to study this book in a university setting, because there are so many themes and it is so well-written. Also, I would like to discuss it with other people because I did find some parts very hard to understand. The main character, Lucy Snowe, who is also the narrator, turns out to be unreliable. She "hides" something from the reader that you don't find out until halfway through. I recommend this for anyone who loves Brontë's other books, as well as anyone who enjoys reading Victorian books, but I do think you need to take a lot of time to read it.

Feb 05, 2015

"Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectations."
Bronte's final novel, published in 1853, before her death at 38 in 1855. It is somewhat of a plodding and slow-moving read, exacerbated by the copious amount of dialogue in French (Villette is the name of a French town) and the length (over 600 pages in this edition. I had trouble getting through it.

Apr 24, 2014

While I enjoyed this book, it was a slow read. Unless you are fluent in French, I would recommend getting a version with translations in the footnotes. I think the Houghton Mifflin and Penguin Classics versions have translations. I read the first 150 pages without any and almost quit reading because I felt like I missed too much. Once I found a copy with translations, the book got vastly better.

Oct 18, 2013


Jun 24, 2012

I was completely engaged by the character of Lucy Snowe and awed by how Bronte allows the reader to enter into her thoughts and her character. Like a real person, Lucy's opinions about the world, the people in it, and her ideas about her self, change over time. Every character in this novel is authentically portrayed. Bronte catches the nuance and humour in human personailty studies and presents to me, as a female reader, a thoroughly 'modern' perspective on how women think about the world.
I am now a confirmed fan of Charlotte Bronte, while also somewhat shocked that I never read her in high school. Lucy Snowe beats Holden Caulfield hands down.

Oct 14, 2011

Villette is a study in patience both for Lucy and the reader. Lucy's existence and the multitude of plights she deals with are rather dull and Lucy as a character is rather unsympathetic. Although she is the narrative voice, she doesn't truly appear in the narrative at the outset, with the focus given rather to supporting characters. Thus is the trend set in place of supporting characters being far more interesting than Lucy, who while an upstanding individual isn't compelling in her own right and tends towards being irritating with her frequent soliloquies on the nature of her solitary life and its hardships. The descriptive and more literary passages are longer than necessary with descriptive phrases always coming in sets of three when a single one would be far more effective. While exploring the experience of a young woman teaching abroad, the narrative has no overarching major plot and seems like Lucy to drift slowly from one point to another. Intriguing as being the most autobiographical of Charlotte Bronte's novels, it remains a very poor cousin of the far more brilliant work that is Jane Eyre.

dragonsnakes Mar 09, 2011

Literary classic with a brave heroine.

Nov 26, 2010

for some reason, could not really get into this novel, at all.


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Nov 02, 2016

"It seemed to me that an original and good picture was just as scarce as an original and good book."

Nov 02, 2016

"Her dearest pulse throbbed in his heart."

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