Sherien's Reviews > Shirley

Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
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Apr 01, 2009

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bookshelves: 19th-century

Charlotte Bronte reminds us—readers that Shirley is “…something unromantic as Monday morning” (chapter 1). Well I found it true because I see Shirley more as a social novel than a romance. The social background depicts the Napoleonic War and the industrial depression caused by it. This is where I found hard to get to the core of the book because I do not have a wide knowledge about that historical-social background. Another thing that is hard for me to get through is that this book seems to have two lines of plot, one about the industrial depression, the world of the unemployed workers of the lower classes and their fight and protest towards the invention of machine. Another plot tells the friendship between two women—Shirley and Caroline and their conflicted-romance relationship with two men—Robert and Louis. There are too many characters in this book and I found it hard to get engaged emotionally. Some characters don’t appear until the second half or almost reaching the end of the book. The romance part in this story I consider quite ordinary. A simple twisted relationship with a classic-predictable happy ending.

However, it’s still an enjoyable read. I found myself flipping the pages fast because like always, Charlotte Bronte narrates her story with beautiful and powerful language that makes you want to go on and on. Another thing that’s interesting is to see the comparison she portrays between her two strong female characters—Caroline and Shirley. Two women with different temperament, personality, and social status form an emotional bound of friendship. Money and social status is always an issue in the Victorian novels. In this story, we can see how those two factors play an important role in love, marriage, happiness and independence. This is a deep story that needs much concentration.

I’ve read The Professor and Jane Eyre and so far I’d have to say that Shirley is much more well-crafted than The Professor but still not as much amazing as Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre touched me deeply and still lingers warmly in my heart and mind until now. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same with Shirley.

One question that I have in mind is why Bronte decided to give the title ‘Shirley’, when Shirley does not seem to be the only main character in this story. It is interesting to find that the name ‘Shirley’ used to be a common male name in those days that the author here uses as a female name. (Chapter 11). As we now know, ‘Shirley’ is a more common female name nowadays. Probably she implicitly tries to deliver a strong point on gender equality through her character--Shirley. I know I have to read this book again someday just to get more absorbed deeply. I recommend this to anyone who loves Charlotte Bronte.


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Reading Progress

04/08/2009 page 128
19.22% 1 comment
04/14/2009 page 540
81.08% "almost there..."
04/15/2009 page 672
100% "DONE! will review it asap..." 1 comment
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Ayu (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ayu Palar Insya Allah senin depan kita baca ya :D asik asik asik. Kayaknya covernya bagusan punya gue hehe.


Sherien ya emang...mangkanya gw sirik...udah gt punya gw hurufnya kecil2...


The Book Whisperer (aka Boof) I liked your review, Sherien (I liked Ayu's too). I had heard that this wasn't the greatest of her books but I am still curious to read it just because it is by Charlotte Bronte. Even though it doesn'tn sound anywhere like as fabulous as Jane Eyre (what could be?) my interest is still piqued enough to want to pick it up.


Sherien Yes, It can't be compared to 'Jane Eyre'...but still enjoyable I think (again, because Charlotte Bronte wrote it!) I just love her use of language, beautiful! I'm curious with 'Villette' though...


message 5: by Sherien (last edited Apr 25, 2009 01:09PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sherien Boof wrote: "I liked your review, Sherien (I liked Ayu's too).

Thanks Boof! I can't wait to hear your opinion on this book...goodluck ;)



message 6: by Ayu (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ayu Palar I also do not understand why she gave 'Shirley' as the title while I think this novel is not only about Shirley.

And Shirley used to be a male name! A new fact!


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