Gary Christensen's Reviews > Villette

Villette by Charlotte Brontë
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Mar 20, 09

Read in March, 2009

** spoiler alert ** I relished the last few pages and was reluctant to let them go, only parting with Lucy reluctantly. Where's the sequel? I want to know how it finishes, but of course, we know how it finishes. Lucy finishes like M. Paul, life cut short, dashed on the breakers. I'd like to register two considerations in writing this review.

First, it's incumbent upon me to consider the author's life in a proper understanding of the work, because it's acknowledged in most criticism that there were many overlaps between Charlotte's and Lucy's life, and that Villette is often regarded as autobiographical.

Lastly, this is not the critical, academic review I would like to write on this work. I have notes on the books that I will address over the years in my fashion. This review is the emotional reaction of an enamored reader.

I have immense respect for the author of Villette. She employed mastery in the development of an intricate, admittedly contrived at times, narrative. The end result of which is a carefully crafted life work that touches on important human themes.

The progression of M. Paul as a character who is disdained by the reader, even abhorred, into someone likable and even admirable, is singular in my reading. Pauline Bosompierre and David Graham both have very human merits and liabilities. Madame Beck's fete, the alter-ego Vishanti and the fire at the theater, the opium induced travels, and finally, my favorite, Lucy discovering her new school and home; are among literature's best handled scenes.

It's a concise, well put record of the buffetings endured by a tragic yet strong female heroine. I have admiration for Lucy Snow. If you identify with Lucy Snow, I would like to marry you.

I have come away having added another book to my list of favorites. I have also come away with renewed insight into "her-story", and the varied unkindnesses endured by the female gender. Mr. Bronte asked for a happy ending in Villette. Charlotte did not (could not) comply. Instead, the young lovers, Lucy and M. Paul, were never reunited. Mr. Bronte outlived his children. This is perhaps not a universal human experience, however, it was the experience of the author. In Finis, the last chapter, the juggernaut of life grinds its supplicants beneath enormous wheels. This is the well-earned, accurate metaphor for the life the sensitive among us. Fortunately, we have such records as Villette commending to our care precious delights, the smell of morning, the importance of tea, the healing power of sleep, and the example of a strong will to endure. I feel that we stand a fair chance of finding happiness whenever the talented among us continue to offer up such works as Villette.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Kelly (last edited Mar 10, 2009 12:19PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kelly Are you liking this? It is my favorite Bronte novel.


Gary Christensen I'm LOVING it. It's so well done. There are so many great things about the prose and methodical plot. I wish I'd studied it in school and spent some real time on it. It's also gratifying to find amazing books yet to be read. I'll keep you posted.


Kelly Oh please do! I'm very interested to see your review.


message 4: by Kelly (last edited Mar 20, 2009 09:49AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kelly I love the love that I see in this review.


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