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Villette

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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  56,029 ratings  ·  3,405 reviews
With her final novel, Villette, Charlotte Brontë reached the height of her artistic power. First published in 1853, Villette is Brontë's most accomplished and deeply felt work, eclipsing even Jane Eyre in critical acclaim. Her narrator, the autobiographical Lucy Snowe, flees England and a tragic past to become an instructor in a French boarding school in the town of Villette. There she unexpec ...more
Paperback, 573 pages
Published October 9th 2001 by Modern Library (first published January 1853)
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Theresa I am re-reading it now, having first read it in my 20's. I liked it then but did not get nearly as much from it as I am now. In fact I love it,…moreI am re-reading it now, having first read it in my 20's. I liked it then but did not get nearly as much from it as I am now. In fact I love it, consider it by far the best Bronte novel of them all. \

It's a very slow read I find. The language is more sophisticated, with a wonderfully rich vocabulary, but the French passages slow me down - I read French easily but not as well as English of course. If there are annotated editions, do get one. I also find I'm looking up lots of references that would have been known to the original reading public, i.e. Timon as Ginevre calls Lucie that frequently. It slows you down but adds to the richness of the read. Since I'm reading it in ebook, it's simple to look up all the references and unfamiliar vocabulary.

It's a very rich story, with intriguing characters. Not as simple an arc as Jane Eyre. (less)
Lisa Maxwell
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  56,029 ratings  ·  3,405 reviews


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Ginny
Jan 19, 2008 rated it liked it
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 g
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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 being as sil
...more
Tatiana
Jun 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1001, 2010, classics, nostalgia
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,
...more
William2
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, fiction, uk, 19-ce
With this, I think, fourth reading, the book reconstitutes itself utterly fresh yet familiar. I still find it surprising in ways I could not have appreciated earlier, as if another layer of the narrative complexity were revealing itself. It seems logical to reread books an author has put through multiple drafts. If reading is a parallel act of creation, rereading is to contrast multiple impressions over time. Villette is my favorite Victorian novel. The story has a long fuse, but that’s typical of its v ...more
Kelly
May 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Ahmad Sharabiani
891. Villette, Charlotte Brontë
Villette is an 1853 novel written by English author Charlotte Brontë. After an unspecified family disaster, the protagonist Lucy Snowe travels from her native England to the fictional French-speaking city of Villette to teach at a girls' school, where she is drawn into adventure and romance. Villette was Charlotte Brontë's fourth novel, it was preceded by The Professor (her posthumously published first novel, of which Villette is a reworking), Jane Eyre, and
...more
Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
Having read Jane Eyre recently for the first time, ...it was suggested I read Villette....
A fantastic Kindle-Freebie!!!

I thought this story was terrific ...equally as good as Jane Eyre.
Lucy Snowe....lonely, introverted, .....and somewhat emotionally unavailable....it's easy to feel empathy towards her... harder to understand what she is thinking. - yet...she was easy to relate to. I could understand her struggles of bumping up against isolation -- and doubting who she was.
Bronte touches
...more
Henry Avila
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lucy Snowe a plain -looking quiet 23-year- old intelligent woman in need of money and help, ( stating it mildly) she has no family left in England in an era before Victoria came to the throne, her godmother Mrs. Bretton who lived in a small town ironically named Bretton, has moved to colossal London with her handsome son John Graham, no way to find the widow there. Still Lucy is not without skill, she is a capable resourceful nevertheless almost destitute lady gathering all her few pitiful coins ...more
Jan-Maat
I finished Jane Eyre and I knew what I was going to write, I finish Villette and I am quite unclear.

My initial expectation was that it would repeat the earlier story: woman, abused childhood, education, passionate love, obstacle, punishments and rewards. Perhaps in large it does. The madwoman in the attic motif is repeated, this something that lodged in Bronte's imagination.

Again the pathological sense of difference between the British and the French, more specifically between the Pr
...more
Meredith Holley
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 thi
...more
Margaret
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 Beck's school, where she meet
...more
Cheryl
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.

I love when this paradoxical life brings me a book laced with "composite and contracted" meani
...more
Aubrey
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 w
...more
The Book Whisperer (aka Boof)
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
...more
Mary
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, fiction, victorian
I really started to feel affection for Villette the first time Lucy Snowe tells the reader she knew something pivotal to the plot about six chapters ago but didn’t bother telling us. This trickery changed the way I was reading. Lucy Snowe was sneering at me and I hadn’t even noticed. I needed to pay attention! All those dark, brooding, anxious passages, the anguish, the loneliness…she only told us what she wanted us to know. A bitter, sly, dark, strong character. The ending sealed the deal for m ...more
Duane
I liked this novel, I think partly because I pictured Charlotte as the character of Lucy Snowe. I felt like it was almost semi-autobiographical in nature. But it's still not in the same league with Jane Eyre, which will forever be considered Bronte's masterpiece. I read where George Eliot and Virginia Woolf believe Villette was her best novel. But in my opinion Jane Eyre is the gold standard of classic English literature. But still, I give Villette 4 stars, certainly worth reading.
Helene Jeppesen
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really beautiful journey which often left me puzzled, but in the end I absolutely loved it. Lucy, our main character, is determined to become independent and make something of her life, and so she goes from England to France, more specifically to the village of Villette.
"Jane Eyre" is amongst my favourite books, so I was very interested to dive further into Charlotte Brontë's authorship. I did see some similarities between the two works; Charlotte Brontë likes to surprise her readers
...more
Nancy
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 cold
...more
7jane
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(edited this with some expanding thoughts:) The story of a woman half-forced to indenpendence, having to find her way in a foreign, largely Catholic country; to find a satisfying job and perhaps love. It's not a straight, clear road that she might've hoped for, but something that makes her grow (view spoiler).

One has to remember while reading
...more
Jessica
I finished this last night and I'm STILL ANGRY.

WHAT THE HELL, CHARLOTTE?

I mean, seriously. I would also like to sit down with the person who wrote the introduction and talked about how Villette is so much better than Jane Eyre. I would like to speak to this person about their drug habit, and how it's affecting their work performance. Because . . . WHAT . . . did I just read? And WHY have so many of my friends given this book 5 stars?

Now, as some of you may kno
...more
Cindy Newton
I'm not sure how to write a review for this book--I don't think I'm even qualified to. Yes, I read it, but not as well as it deserved. I went into it lightly, assuming that it was a weaker, watered-down, inferior version of Jane Eyre. By the end, I realized that this book is a force unto itself. The force of this book is subtle, though; it doesn't smack you between the eyes, but rather creeps up on you stealthily, winding almost invisible tentacles around your consciousness, catching you up into the ...more
Laura
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Simona Bartolotta
So, so different from my Jane Eyre. But different is good too.
Amanda
Oct 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
10/26/16 "Forget the modern debate over 'likeable' female characters - Lucy is prickly, repressed, untrustworthy, unattractive, judgmental, in constant denial of her own feelings, desperate for affection, violently anti-Catholic - in short an IMPOSSIBLE female character. There are even times when not only Lucy but Bronte herself hides significant information about the other characters from the readers, often casually mentioning having withheld it long after the fact. She is difficult to sympathi ...more
Elham
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Elham by: Teresa
This book is dark, dark; even darker than any existentialist novel I have ever read, and how true and realistic. It seems that this novel is a kind of semi-autobiography.

Like Jane Eyre, this time also the book starts with the stories of a girl, Lucy Snow, living for a while with her godmother. But it was only for a short while. Then she grows up (we don't know anything about the years in between from her 14-23 – we just know that she had a difficult life that she had to work and nurs
...more
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
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 receiving Love
...more
Nicola
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-books, g1000, gothic
My third and final Charlotte Bronte from the 1001 list, although Jane Eyre, which I read as a teenager is probably due for a re-read especially as although I enjoyed it I didn't really 'really' like it and I've been thinking that I should probably give it another chance as it were. I was reconsidering this after having read Shirley not so long ago, as I thought that novel pretty mediocre really, but Villette has raised Charlotte in my estimation even though it might be as good as it is because it has been the culmi ...more
Catie
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  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 the novel ...more
Jess
"You are good, you are beautiful, but you are not mine."

Bravissima, Brontë!

Villette: melancholy, bitter, remorseless and much less urgent than Jane Eyre. And yet, it is a far more nuanced, accomplished, complex and mesmerising work than its older sibling.

Charlotte Brontë's final novel is an exquisite examination of loneliness and unrequited love. It’s a deeply interior novel and whilst the paucity of action might act as a deterrent to some, the dark introspection of Lucy Snowe and her existenc
...more
April (Aprilius Maximus)
I have very mixed feelings about this one! On one hand, I absolutely ADORE Charlotte's writing because it is just so, so, so, SO beautiful. However, this novel started off being quite disjointed and confusing and I was often left puzzled by the randomness of the events and the varied pacing.
After reading Charlotte Brontë: A Life, I could clearly see the parallels between Villette and Charlotte's personal life. This book was practically an autobiography and in that sense, it was super different to Ja
...more
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Did you find the ending appropriate? 41 761 Sep 27, 2019 11:32AM  
Brontë Book Club: Villette 4 60 Feb 04, 2019 07:59AM  
Reading 1001: Villette by Charlotte Bronte 2 14 Jan 06, 2019 05:48PM  
Lea og Lotte læser: Afsnit 15, kapitel 32 2 2 Sep 24, 2018 03:55AM  
Lea og Lotte læser: Afsnit 14, kapitel 31 1 2 Sep 14, 2018 11:24AM  

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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 family
...more
“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.” 260 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.” 227 likes
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