Tuesday, June 29

Book Review: Villette

Title: Villette

Author: Charlotte Brontë

Pages: 543

Summary: In the last of three great novels by which Charlotte Brontë secure her place in English Literature. It is regarded by many as more convincing and artistically satisfying than the author's earlier and better-known classic, Jane Eyre, or the less familiar Shirley.

Drawing extensively upon experience in Villette, the novelist has sketched with delicate yet incisive strokes a moving love tendered only to be rejected, of passion aroused only to remain unfulfilled. The knowledge that Lucy Snowe, the governess-teacher heroine of Villette, is generally recognized to be a skilfully reflected and dramatized self-portrait of Charlotte Brontë herself serves to lend additional interest and appeal to this poignant nineteenth-century romance.

My Rating: 8.5

What I liked/disliked about the book: This is may be my favourite book by Brontë sisters I’ve read so far. I really enjoyed the book, and am surprised to see that it isn’t nearly as popular as Jane Eyre, because Charlotte far surpasses her skills as an author and storyteller in this novel, than she does in Jane Eyre.

First of all, what I enjoy about many 19th century and earlier writers is the way the tell an write the story. It has such an elegant flow and feel to it, it is easy to lose your self in the story, by the writing it self. I also love how Brontë address the reader directly though-out the book. It adds a sense of intimacy this way I think, in the reading experience. I also enjoyed the story itself, including the protagonist. It was nice to see an independent woman, who tried to make it out as a single woman, with no family background to support her, by her self. Something that is rare during the time periods. It’s not really a book about women breaking free of barriers, but it does have some tiny parts of that element. I also, for once, found my self lost in the love story of the book, and Lucy Snowe’s quest for love so to speak. Although I was routing for someone else, and was surprised by the end, I did enjoy the more romantic side of the story. I think because it was more of a back story, rather than the main aspect of it. Most of the book was about Lucy Snowe, her life and the observations she makes of those around her in the town, Villette, and how her life has turned out when she set off on her own.

Finally, I enjoyed the gothic side of the book, and the element of a ghost story. After experiencing other books by Charlotte Brontë, I was itching to find out the truth behind the mystery, although in the end I didn’t find it to be as revealing as Jane Eyere.

What I didn’t like. I found some of the characters tiring. Even Lucy Snowe at times. It seems that because she’s more independent, she has less passion in her life, than those who are less independent, as they have men and future husbands that drive them. I know this is part of how the culture at the time was, but some of the characters fawning over future husbands and their at times, overdoing/becoming hysteric can get on ones nerves. This isn’t a big issue I had with the novel, but it is there. But overall, I enjoyed the story, and will likely read it again.

Would I recommend it to read: If you’re a fan of the Brontë sister’s novels, I would, especially if you enjoyed other of Charlotte’s novels or novellas. I personally found this to be a better read than Jane Eyre, and it is a far better example of her ability as an author than Jane Eyre (or The Professor, which I’ve also read). But, it does move slowly, at times so I can see some readers who would give up on the book.

What to read next: If you haven’t read anything else by Charlotte I’d say go give her another try.

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, All about the Brontes Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Decades Challenge, RYOB Challenge


  1. I haven't read this Bronte sister, but it sounds like I should start with this one. Thanks for the review.

  2. Serena - She's my favourite. Emily is my least. But Villette is a good place to start. Jane Eyre is worth reading too, but this just has something different to the story I enjoyed more. Again, I think it might be because it's been given less attention, so I knew less about what was suppose to happen by the end.

  3. I so want to read this book, and have had a copy on my shelf for such a long time. I think it sounds great and I really am intrigued that you mention that it is a better read then Jane Eyre. I loved your review and am so glad to have read it because it put the book right in the center of my attention again!

  4. I just could not do this book! 250 pages in I hated the narrator so much I couldn't continue. :(

  5. I really enjoyed this one too. And yet, before I read it, I had really never heard of it. Like you, I'm not sure why Jane Eyre is so popular but Villette is relatively unknown.

  6. Zibilee - This was a used bookstore purchase for me, and it would have stayed on my shelf for years unnoticed hadn't I joined the one challenge. I'm glad my review helped, let me know your thoughts on it when you get a chance to read it.

    Amanda - Aw, thats a shame, but if you hate the narrator, then it is hard to get through the book. I'm like that with a few books, especially Mansfield Park.

    Kristen M - I'm not sure why this is so unheard of either. The only thing I can think of is that it was slightly less conventional outlook, or almost scandalous during the time period.