Publication Date: 1857
‘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.
Lucy has tried so long to escape. Yet in spite of adversity and disappointment, Lucy Snowe survives to recount the unstinting vision of a turbulent life’s journey – a journey that is one of the most insightful fictional studies of a woman’s consciousness in English literature.’ – Goodreads
Hello friends! Once again we venture into the realm of the classic novel. This time we find ourselves in nineteenth-century Belgium, courtesy of our continental adventurer, Lucy Snowe. Villette is often cited as one of the best works of Brontë’s career and I fully understand why. This is a fantastic novel, filled with twists, turns and excitement!
To see and know the worst is to take from Fear her main advantage.
Brontë excels at ‘breaking the fourth wall’ in her writing and none the more so than in Villette. This is definitely a character study of a novel, and Lucy’s character is so so fascinating. Though she begins as a quiet and passive character, we soon learn that she can be deceptive to the reader. She simultaneously manages to be a likeable character – she is opinionated yet relatable. Jealous yet kind. Snowe is flawed, but that is what makes her so great. In many ways, this novel is a study on human nature. For this, I think it surpasses Jane Eyre in its likeability.
I also adored the open end to the novel. Knowing that we will never know what happens adds to the humanity of the story. As in real life we never truly know the end to some people’s stories, so we don’t in Villette.
If life be a war, it seemed my destiny to conduct it single-handed.
My only reason for not rating this higher is the multitude of paragraphs written in French with no translation offered . But I suppose this puts you in Snowe’s shoes even more if neither she nor I can speak the language! The Brontë excellence strikes again.