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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  33,579 ratings  ·  1,863 reviews

"Villette! Villette! Have you read it?" exclaimed George Eliot when Charlotte Brontë's final novel appeared in 1853. "It is a still more wonderful book than Jane Eyre. There is something almost preternatural in its power."

Arguably Brontë's most refined and deeply felt work, Villette draws on her profound loneliness following the deaths of her three siblings. Lucy Snowe, th
Paperback, 573 pages
Published October 9th 2001 by Modern Library (first published 1853)
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Sara L Yes, I think so because there are quite a few passages in french. Still, I enjoyed it (not as much as Jane Eyre) I listened to a libravox recording…moreYes, I think so because there are quite a few passages in french. Still, I enjoyed it (not as much as Jane Eyre) I listened to a libravox recording and also read the book at the same time. (less)
James L. Currin An English author and an English main character. We shouldn't forget that the setting for most of the book is in France. Bronte's inclusion of French…moreAn English author and an English main character. We shouldn't forget that the setting for most of the book is in France. Bronte's inclusion of French text keeps this in front of us. Wouldn't you rather have sub-titles than dubbed sound? I didn't understand most of the French, either, but I don't think it ever got in the way of the context.(less)
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Community Reviews

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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
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, tha
Jeffrey Keeten
“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 be
Mar 21, 2014 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bronte fans, Victorian lit fans, feminists
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 ...more
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 doi
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.

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
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 Be
Oct 01, 2011 Catie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Catie by: Tatiana
When compared to Jane Eyre, this novel seems often pronounced the more mature work of Charlotte Bronte. I think that’s true. However, this book is not more mature in the sense that it’s more open-minded, worldly, or settled. If Jane Eyre is the novel of a woman who believes in true love, hope, and positive destiny; who believes that there's a reason for strife, then this is the novel that’s written by that woman when she’s been disappointed in love and has lost her family and her dreams. This is ...more

For a very long time I've thought that the only Bronte novel I would ever really like is Jane Eyre. I am very pleased to have put that idea to the challenge and proven myself wrong.

Villette is not an easy novel. To start with, like so many Victorian novels it is dense and slow moving, particularly in the middle section. The plot could be summed up in a single paragraph and no opportunity is lost to take a page to say what could be said in a single sentence. The narrative is heavily reliant on c
Jennifer (aka EM)
*NEW REVIEW* (below)

Wowza. That's what you call a cliff-hanger. If I didn't know better, I'd swear she meant to write a sequel.............

What a fabulous, sad, strong, odd, ultimately sympathetic creature is Lucy Snowe. Despite (view spoiler), my feelings are optimistic for her. Indeed, I feel empowered by her.

Charlotte Brontë is my gal. A woman about 200 years ahead of her time.

More later.



Each year, I do a review of my reading
Christopher H.
I cry in anguish, "Oh Villette, Villette, Villette!"

It was a feeling that came upon me as I read this novel; the palpable feeling of—

The cold grey storms of the fall and winter, the relentless building winds, the rain pounding against the window—those dark and dreary days of loneliness—all of the losses have brought you a smothering and almost overwhelming mantle of grief. You see, and write of, the Love around you, but feel the throbbing ache, day after day, night after night, of never receivin
Kressel Housman
Apr 06, 2008 Kressel Housman rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bronte fans, women, lovers of classics
Jane Eyre is one of my lifetime favorites. Every now and then, I take it off my bookshelf just to re-read my favorite scenes. So when I learned that Charlotte Bronte connoisseurs consider Villette her masterpiece, I was actually reluctant to try it. I didn’t want my favorite to get dethroned! But I didn’t deny myself the pleasure, and I was richly rewarded. Jane Eyre and Villette now share the throne quite comfortably.

I’ll admit that Villette has some very slow sections. The early scenes of the
This book alternated between being frustrating and interesting. Charlotte Bronte has written some lovely lyrical passages but something oddly inconsistent happens with the protagonist, Lucy Snowe, and the two men in the book who are supposedly fashioned after love-interests from Charlotte's own life. It's as if Charlotte was hesitant or found it difficult to pin down the characters in her own mind. Perhaps a struggle between reality and fiction? At any rate there are some strange inconsistencies ...more
I know I should prefer this book to Jane Eyre. But I don't. So sue me. Or I didn't when I read it. Years ago. Many years. Like twenty. Maybe I've matured. Or... you know... not. I do recall that by the end of Villette I was deeply tired of being around Lucy, wanted to push GF into the mud, & longed to see the grotesque M. Paul nibbled to death by fierce French chipmunks. If that means I'm not a serious person, well, so be it.
According to The Telegraph Charlotte Brontë’s Villette is better than her best known work Jane Eyre. This bold declaration alone put Villette in my reading list because Jane Eyre really is one of the best books I ever had the pleasure of reading. Having just read Villette I have to disagree with the Telegraph’s columnist, I should have known better, goddam hyperboles. Villette is a fictional city in France, the novel is somewhat autobiographical in that it is partly based on Brontë’s experience ...more
Gary Christensen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 12, 2010 Ellen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: novels
What is it about Brontë that pulls a reader in so quickly? Many years ago, when I was in seventh grade, perhaps, I remember starting Jane Eyre. Within a page, I was hooked. I couldn't put the book down and knew my mother would soon be announcing "Bed time - it's a school night!" I raced against time, and then begged to read just a little longer, a little longer. Similarly, when I was thinking about Villette which I hadn't read for a while, I opened the book just to scan it a bit and soon read ov ...more
To say that this book is unforgettably original, sui generis, would be an understatement. Although it winks now and then at the gothic tradition, it would be incorrect to pigeonhole "Villette" as a "gothic novel." It is not subservient to any literary genre: it is not a bildungsroman like "Jane Eyre," a "social novel" like "Shirley," a comedy of manners, a "local color" novel, or anything else (although it winks at the conventions of all these genres from time to time).

The dialogue is more alive
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 boo
Update as of 3/9/09: This book cannot hold a candle to Jane Eyre. I have made the final decision to put it down about 1/2 way through and not finish it. The language is too cumbersome, the French is too un-translated, and it is just too bleak and lonely of a story. I have a pile of other books that I can't wait to start reading. Why let Villette stop me?

I have cracked open my thick, years-old, hard-bound edition of the c
"I seemed to hold two lives--the life of thought, and that of
reality; and, provided the former was nourished with a sufficiency of the strange necromantic joys of fancy, the privileges of the latter might remain limited to daily bread, hourly work, and a roof of shelter."

Lucy Snowe, the book's heroine, has good common sense, steely nerves, and no protectors. Not for her the life of a hothouse bloom--she must fend for herself from an early age. After the old woman she works for dies, she is left
Ayu Palar
Finally, I finished Vilette! I am proud of myself for this because I cannot remember the last time I could finish a classic book as thick as this. If you have read Jane Eyre, you will find things in Vilette that remind you of the previous novel. Lucy Snowe, the heroine, is also a woman dealing with education (Jane is a governess, while Lucy is a school teacher). The story is seen from the first person of view as well. That is why many readers consider Charlotte Bronte’s novels as autobiographica ...more
La Petite Américaine
The constant hangover that my summer has been has really left me too stupid to finish this now ... but I'll get to the end because this book friggin rocks.

***UPDATED***: This book is totally not summer reading ... I just finished it last month. Although I prefer the story of Jane Eyre, Vilette is by far a better book as far as style and prose. An absolute must read, one of the best books I've ever read ....

Dammit. When a book is good, I actually don't have anything else to say except read the
First off, I love Brit Lit classics. Jane Austen, the Brontes—yeah, I've probably read them. I know this style of writing and genre is not for everyone!

Villette surprised me. I've read Jane Eyre (several times and never as an assignment) and I love it. But I've always felt Jane was a bit one-dimensional. She's too good. But I love the story. When I started reading Villette, I thought of Lucy Snowe as Jane Eyre improved. But that's not quite it. Lucy is more developed, more true to life. Lucy is
Who said the only good novel by Brontë was Jane Eyre? This one has more into it that our timeless heroine, some say it's a biographical book, and if it is...Charlotte I admire you even more than before!
I love Lucy Snowe! From the moment I read, "I seemed to hold two lives - the life of thought, and that of reality; and, provided the former was nourished with a sufficiency of the strange necromantic joys of fancy, the privileges of the latter might remain limited to daily bread, hourly work, and a roof of shelter," I knew that she and I were two of one mold.

Lucy is seen as a different person by each of the characters around her, yet not one of their visions matches her picture of herself. The
A rather daring novel for its time before women even considered supporting themselves by taking a job, Bronte's Villette explores the mind of Lucy Snowe as she embarks on an adventure well beyond the familiarity of England to teach at a school in Labassecour (modelled on Belgium) on the Continent. Here she enters a world where things are hidden, buried, obscured from view. Even Lucy herself is much like a hidden world, for she consciously conceals the facts of her past, much to the irriation of ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah A.
This book was devided into three parts, and I decided to write a review at the end of each "Volume", so here it goes:

"Volume I"

I almost hated Lucy! She's a hateful soul who sees herself better than everyone and yet dares to wish for love and company. She wants people's love and kindness when she offers none. She "bears with them" but never truly care or repect anyone. Then she fancies herself misunderstood and mistreated on those basis. I do believe her smart and observant, but it is not lack of
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Too much French without translation 3 4 Jan 28, 2015 02:00PM  
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Charlotte Brontë was a British 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 fam
More about Charlotte Brontë...
Jane Eyre Shirley The Professor Emma Charlotte & Emily Brontë: The Complete Novels

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“I believe in some blending of hope and sunshine sweetening the worst lots. I believe that this life is not all; neither the beginning nor the end. I believe while I tremble; I trust while I weep.” 139 likes
“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.” 115 likes
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