Pamela's Reviews > Villette

Villette by Charlotte Brontë
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Apr 25, 12

bookshelves: angst, boring, british, classics, disappointing, overrated, sad, woefully-depressing, dnf
Read from December 17 to 21, 2011 — I own a copy

I admit it: I did not finish Villette. Please, feel free to hurl epithets at me and accuse me of being a bad person. You may also accuse me of being plebian or bourgeois in my literary tastes: choose the epithet that most appeals to you.

I didn't not finish this book because it's depressing, or sad, or has an atmosphere that's pulled from the very deepest, darkest, saddest parts of the soul. Contrary to how my ratings turn out, I do not hate depressing books, or books that make me cry, or books where the guy doesn't get the girl (or v/v). Yes, I do love Jane Eyre. I love Austen and Dickens. I also love Zola and Balzac. I like happy books and sad books. But I do not like Villette.

As many others have pointed out, the narrator, Lucy Snowe, is not easy to like. She's quite easy to hate. I want to smack her and say, "So! You're whining about how you're lonely, eh? But then you don't do anything about it! You just sit at home because you don't like people! So which is it, Miss Snowe?" The unreliable narrator card is always a good one, but from as far as I read (about halfway in), it wasn't done particularly well. There's also no real plot, no story. I guess this is supposed to be a character study, but I don't particularly want to spend my time reading a character study about someone I dislike quite a lot. It's not really a "love to hate" situation, either. It was more of a "bored and hating" situation.

I recently finished The Professor, which felt very rough next to Jane Eyre. However, it feels as if Brontë lifted a lot from The Professor and plunked it right here in Villette. Hmm. This includes the dialogues in French. I cannot fault Brontë for this, really, as most of her readers would have been able to read the French. Thanking my lucky stars that my French B.A. is good for something, I didn't mind it--but please invest in an edition with good footnotes/translations if you don't speak French!

Much as in The Professor, Brontë's views on other religions--well, okay, just Catholicism--and the French and the Belgians really rub me the wrong way. I know that there were no politically-correct police back then, but she has a real vehemence when describing belief systems or cultures not her own. They are all inferior, yet to be feared. At one point, Lucy goes to confession just to speak with someone, but never contacts the (very nice and kind) priest again because she's afraid he'll convert her--as if Catholicism is some sort of plague.

I really struggled with myself when making the decision to stop reading. On one hand, *everybody* is saying what a great book this is, so much better than Jane Eyre, so much more mature, realistic, blah blah blah. Okay. I get that. However, when nothing is happening and I can see the ending coming a mile away, along with the requisite people-who-prevent-lovers-from-being-together drama, I just ... can't. I cannot find it within myself to finish this.
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Reading Progress

12/17/2011 page 80
16.0%
08/24/2013 marked as: dnf
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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

This novel felt that it was mainly about triumph and finding your self worth. Her character spoke to the observers of life who do not quite make an impression on people (such as you) but have minds that is filled with life and opinions. It is about appreciating wonderful minds because at the end of the day, we are worth living and having a purpose:)


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