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Shirley (Penguin Popular Classics) Paperback – 24 Feb 1994


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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (24 Feb. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140620230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140620238
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 2.7 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,750,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Charlotte Brontë (1816–1855) was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sister authors. Her novels are considered masterpieces of English literature – the most famous of which is Jane Eyre.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
OF late years, an abundant shower of curates has fallen upon the north of England: they lie very thick on the hills; every parish has one or more of them; they are young enough to be very active, and ought to be doing a great deal of good. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Helen Gaw (helen_gaw@hotmail.com) on 29 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
'Shirley' did not grab my attention from the outset as it is densely written; each sentence must be carefully read, not skimmed over. As you can read from the synopsis on the cover, the novel is set in a fragile social and economic situation, but the novel concerns so much more than Luddite riots. Charlotte Bronte takes us into the hearts and minds of the characters as they are challenged by their surroundings, their church and each other. In the starkest terms it concerns loneliness and companionship, love and enmity. It is testament to her writing that months after reading it, I still feel as if I know the central characters almost better than they know themselves. To me, the world we are drawn into in 'Shirley' seems more real than that of 'Jane Eyre'. It is a wonderful book and I do not know why it is so neglected in comparison. It may take a while to get to grips with, but the result is worth the wait.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mr. P. Skinner on 19 July 2009
Format: Paperback
this book is set in the early nineteenth century at the time of the luddite riots and the napoleonic wars. even though this was before charlotte brontes time it is clearly very well researched to the extent that it reminded me very much of the time that i was on strike a couple of years ago. the book doesn't though just look at the relations between the desperate, starving luddites and the ruthless industrialist robert moore. throw in to that two women who cannot see fault with him and you have a potent love story as well as a social novel. it also examines the role of the church in village society in the nineteenth century and how that affected the social dynamics of a village at the time. this is charlotte bronte at her wonderful evocative best, a fantastic read
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Rhona on 14 Nov. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
"Shirley" is a wonderful book by an astonishingly insightful and erudite author, Charlotte Bronte. Charlotte, unlike most women of her day gained education but her keen mind displays not only knowledge, but wisdom of the human condition which she channels into her utterley believeable characters. Her prose is sometimes pragmatically "Yorkshire" and at other times almost poetically Shakespearian. I loved this book!

Moreover, I loved reading it on Kindle. It contained many archaic and unusual words and it was a delight to be able to simply hover over them, to obtain the meaning and origins from the in-built dictionary. Pity it didn't cover all the Yorkshire dialect though!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Muppet on 17 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
As one of the other reviewers suggests, this isn't an easy read, there really is so much packed into each sentence, and it's a pretty hefty tome too! It's very much worth sticking at it.

For me, this is the first novel of its type which made me truly understand the precarious (and very lonely) position of a lot of women at that time... at one point, Caroline struck me almost as a Bridget Jones of her time... (with Shirley picking up the pieces (and not a bottle of Chardonnay in sight)) being denied a career as a governess by her guardian yet having no wealth to attract a husband... (OK so the Bridget Jones analogy is stretching it a little bit). It's very much more than merely taking tea, dancing and a barouche-landau here and there, the commentary on the poverty and social upheaval is a fascinating insight.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 22 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
One of the interesting things about Charlotte Bronte was the way she experimented with fiction. After the gothic (melo)drama of Jane Eyre she wrote her version of the 'industrial' novel more usually associated with her friend Elizabeth Gaskell.

Unlike the more romantic (or anti-romantic?) Jane Eyre and Villette, this is steeped in social realism: religion, class and economic politics. We have two heroines and two heroes and Shirley herself isn't always at the centre of the novel.

For Bronte or C19th literature fans this is a good read, but if you haven't read Charlotte Bronte before best not start here.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jasmine Christina Bird on 22 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
Charlotte Bronte's rich language and poetic style made this story very easy for me to visualise. It's definitely for those who have a passion for the English language and learning in general. I really felt that the author was talking to me at times in that I found myself empathizing with certain characters. It also gives the reader an insight into British history and society of bygone years. I would quite happily read it again.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James on 9 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is set in west Yorkshire during the Luddite disturbances of 1811-12. The four central characters are Caroline Helstone, Shirley Keeldar, Robert Moore and his brother Louis. Shirley is the wealthy owner of an estate; Caroline has no money and is under the guardianship of her uncle; Robert owns a textile mill but is under financial pressure because his foreign markets have been closed by the country's ongoing wars; Louis was formerly Shirley's tutor and is currently employed as a tutor by her uncle. The core of the plot is the fluctuating nature of Caroline's relationship with Robert, and of Shirley's relationships with both Moore brothers. An important sub-plot concerns Robert's desire to mechanise his production, and the sometimes violent Luddite resistance from many local people who have been plunged into poverty by such actions on the part of Moore and other mill owners.

When this book was published several contemporary critics were somewhat negative, on the grounds that they felt that it wasn't as good as Jane Eyre, which had been published some two years earlier. I agree that it isn't as good, but in my view this isn't a reasonable basis for being negative: rather than comparing the book unfavourably with one of the best novels ever written, it is surely more appropriate to judge it in its own right. Viewed thus, in my view it has plenty going for it. It develops two principal themes. The first is feminism, which in various guises is an important part of the work of all three Brontë sisters but is especially important in Charlotte's books. If anything it plays an even stronger role in Shirley than in Jane Eyre.
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