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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet


Author: Bronte, Charlotte
Originally Published: 1853
Publisher: Random House

VilletteAfter I finished Jane Eyre, I was told that I simply had to read Villette. (Why do I put off reading that which Rachel tells me I need to read?) According to the introduction in the book, it is Charlotte Bronte’s masterpiece, so after reading that and being told that I must read the book, I was looking forward to the book a lot.

It’s the story of Lucy Snowe. She’s an Englishwoman who has gone through some sort of family tragedy that leaves her needing to work to make a living. Lucy travels to a small town, Villette, in France, and ends up teaching at an all-girls boarding school.

Even though it is a completely charming and dear story, I found two things to be frustrating with this book. The first is that my French is not good. So what if I studied French for 6 years in school – do I actually remember any of it? No. I found that flipping to the back of the book every couple of minutes for a translation interrupted the flow of the story, and it took me a long time to really get into what was going on.

The other was the fact that there is a character named Dr. John. And every time Dr. John graced the pages, I would end up spending the next couple of hours singing about Cod Liver Oil – of which I am sure no one around me appreciated muchly. (I shake my fist at you, Great Big Sea. You and your positively wonderful music.)

But yes, I did like the book. Not enough that I’ll want to re-read it, and even though this is Bronte’s masterpiece, I still prefer Jane Eyre.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 6:29 pm October 9, 2006.
Category: Classics
Book Author(s):

  • melrose plant

    you are a dear for reading Villette. I like it mostly because M. Paul is so wonderful…he gives her her independence in the basest way: by giving her an occupation through the school he purchases for her and her own house.

    The French is annoying…. I kept looking everything up in the index.

    I am so glad you read it. You are one swell duck!!

  • jmfausti

    I love, love, love Jane Eyre, so I know I should really read Villette. I guess now I know to read it near the computer and the trusty Google translator.