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Villette Paperback – Import, 22 Sep 2015
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
"Villette" is an amazing piece of literature, at times it reads like magical and enchanting poetry, and at other times it reads exactly like a diary, uncensored, but like all great literature it reads with a haunting honesty that borders on the sublime.
Lucy Snowe, like Ms. Bronte's Jane Eyre, is a character whose appeal and inquisitiveness sets the stage for an analytic and intrusive insight into a society where an ambitious and smart woman's place in the workforce is still an unacceptable and alien concept, unless the woman's ambition is limited to being a servant, a governess, or a teacher.
"Villette" is the last of Charlotte Bronte's novels and it goes places and poses questions about religion, morals, corruption,and ambition that are still being heatedly debated one hundred and seventy years later.
This is a very long novel and it is the type of book that should be read carefully and patiently, and more than once. It has so much to offer and it simply overflows with brilliance and reawakens many of our dreams and desires that we might have long ago forgotten but we should never have buried.
I read later that Bronte patterned the book's characters on people well known to her, though I still wonder if the author's personality mirrored Lucie Snowe's as well.
I read this because I enjoyed Jane Eyre and wanted a similar thing, but different. Villette didn't disappoint. While some plot patterns and character themes are similar to those used in Jane Eyre, Villette is a completely different thing. I had a blast!
Charlotte has full mastery of the language. No wonder her works are listed among the classics. She has no trouble expressing herself, and offers many insights into the human trials which are still relevant today. But what makes Villette truly fascinating is the protagonist, Lucy Snowe.
This is a romance story like no other. Lucy tries for human intimacy twice, loses both times. The odds are against her; her fate is written from the start. The ending isn't really ambiguous. The narrator states quite clearly what happened, then tells those who can't handle it to imagine their own happy ending, if they're so inclined.
When Dr. John was first introduced, I recognized him as a romantic interest and was pleasantly surprised that he was handsome. This is a step up, I thought, from Jane Eyre, where the narrator thought that handsome men are just too divine for her. Her self-esteem must be improving.
What can I say? At that point, I didn't yet realize that Lucy was born to suffer.
She resents that Graham can't see past her plain features to appreciate the treasure of her true inner self. But how could he appreciate what was denied him? She hid her true feelings from him, from the world, and from the readers. The narrator conceals facts - vital facts. Whenever she feels strongly, she becomes mute.
The story sometimes dragged and often got depressing, but it was all worth it for the ending. The narrator briefly outlines what happened to the main cast of the story - to her adversaries. They lived a long, prosperous life. She says not a word about Lucy, and that silence is loud and funeral. Lucy, who did her best to challenge fate, and this time the defeat was absolute. Once again, she becomes silent, this time to never speak again. Mutely she draws a black curtain over the ending.
Because, the writer wants us to know, some people are destined for happiness. And some people are just born to suffer. Better luck next life, Lucy Snowe.