Thursday, August 15, 2013

Villette (The Classics Club, #2)

I read Charlotte Bronte’s well-known Jane Eyre in late 2011, and fell in love with its original plot, beautifully metaphoric writing, and unforgettable characters. But I don’t want to undermine Villette, her third novel, in comparing it to the brilliant 1847 classic.

Lucy Snowe is a practical yet very feeling young woman who is left with no one as to family and none to love her. After her rich employer, Mrs. Marchmont, dies, Lucy heads, on a “spur-of-the-moment” decision, to the city of Villette in France. Fate sends her to a pensionnat, a boarding/day school for jeunes filles. She there meets the stoic, intelligent, yet horribly aggravating directress, Madame Beck; the handsome, infatuated-with-a-schoolgirl Dr. John; and the temperamental yet somehow kind Monsieur Paul Emanuel. But she finds it hard to find—and keep—a friend, and the pensionnat appears to be haunted by none other than the NUN that legendarily was buried alive in the convent-turned-pensionnat.

I heard wonderful things about Villette from my dear friend Becca Anne, but Hayden seemed a little so-so about the story. I didn’t really begin to like it a lot until closer to the end; even then, I’m not sure how much I liked it. The enormous lack of dialogue throughout much of the book annoyed me; Lucy’s constant metaphorical, analytical, and irritatingly far-beyond-me thought process was a bit of a bore; and I confess that I would have to read this book through a second time, because I think I missed a lot the first time through. The characters seem well thought-out, even though Lucy’s personality is somewhat unlikeable. The plot is also well-done (even if it is basically just a romance), and the added “creepiness” of the Nun made the story pretty satisfying in the end. As a word of warning: Bronte seems overly fond of the French language (if you read Jane Eyre, you’ll probably remember how many translations you had to read), and you’ll need a copy with English translations if you want to fully enjoy this book.

7 stars.


  1. heehee. You mentioned me. ;) I did enjoy Villette overall, I suppose, but I'm just not a fan of the Brontes in general, 'cause I'm not a very emotional person. But I do like their books occasionally. Charlotte Bronte's "The Professor" is on my classics list, but I heard that one has a lot of French in it to, which may be annoying to this English-only speaking girl :)

    1. Haha, yes, I did! :)

      Ah, I see. I'm pretty emotional--ahem, too much, I'm afraid--not going to say any more about that!

      The French in the books really bothers me because you constantly have to flip to the notes to get the translations. I wish there were footnotes in those novels, because it would be so much easier on the reader. But speaking of French, didn't you say you have "limited knowledge" and could translate one of the sentences? I would be so happy if I knew that much!

  2. The french in this book WAS a little annoying, but yes, I did enjoy the story thouroughly. It was real and interesting, and sweet, in a strange sort of way too. I am a huge fan of Charlotte Bronte, as you very well know, deary, but I would say this book is m y third favorite by her. Jane Eyre ranks first, and Shirly second. :) But I believe we may have discussed that a time or four. :)

    I hope you are having great fun on your writing retreat right now, and I still miss you. :) We need to get together, deary!!

    Love you tons and lots,
    Becca Anne

    1. I like how you said it was "real"--it was! And I can definitely say that I like Jane Eyre better of the two of them :)

      We do need to get together! Ugh, I haven't begun Day Three yet, and still have 2,956 words to go :P Help us all. I don't even know if I'll have the proper inspiration to do it.

      Love you too! :D


Go 'head, leave a comment! I gladly respond to every one :)