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77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's criminal!
I do not in any way mean to say that this book is bad; indeed, I mean the very opposite. It is criminal that "Villette" is not widely recognised as Charlotte Brontė's tour de force. Overshadowed by the tremendous success of "Jane Eyre" - which is, in itself, a wonderful novel - "Villette" has been largely ignored. Yet, in my opinion, it is...
Published on 13 April 2001

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lucy Snowe, queen of boohoo
I read somewhere that the difference between this book and Jane Eyre is that Jane Eyre actually liked the reader. Lucy Snowe, the narrator and protagonist in this book, well... she hates you. It's like reading Winnie the Pooh but having Eeyore tell the story, she's just the most miserable, sullen person you'll ever come across. She has insight though, she observes other...
Published on 12 Aug 2010 by Ms. J. Francis


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77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's criminal!, 13 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Villette (Everyman) (Paperback)
I do not in any way mean to say that this book is bad; indeed, I mean the very opposite. It is criminal that "Villette" is not widely recognised as Charlotte Brontė's tour de force. Overshadowed by the tremendous success of "Jane Eyre" - which is, in itself, a wonderful novel - "Villette" has been largely ignored. Yet, in my opinion, it is superior: it has a better structure, a better heroine and a well designed plot. In what can only be described as an "aesthetically satisfying work," we engage with the main character, Lucy Snowe; we feel her passion, her isolation, her desperation - in fact, it is a highly autobiographical work. It is the story of unrequited love. It is the study of the development of a character put into adverse circumstances. It is the expression of , as never seen in English before, of the complexities and subtleties of a woman. It is poetical, beautiful. We follow Lucy as she grows up: living with her aunt, becoming a teacher in a school called Villette, standing up to the hostility of many other teachers and finally ... I think that anyone who loved "Jane Eyre" - there are not many of us who don't - will appreciate this criminally overlooked novel. Moreover, it is the perfect novel for a first-time Brontė reader - followed very closely by "Jane Eyre". Please do not take my word for it - read it and be mesmerised in a vividly painted world that will haunt you forever!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Villette, by Charlotte Bronte, 27 April 2011
This review is from: Villette (Kindle Edition)
Villette was written by Charlotte Bronte, and published in 1853. It follows the adventures of Lucy Snowe as she leaves her home and England to go teach at an all-girls school in the fiction town of Villette, in Europe.

Like with Jane Eyre, Bronte draws on alot of her own experiences to write this book, working in a Pensionnat in Brussels. The book really explores Lucy Snowe's psychology as she deals with living abroad, meeting new people, both good and bad, and falling in love. There is a great many gothic elements in the book, ghostly nuns included and it is a really enjoyable read.

My only complaint would be the ending. Not wanting to spoil the book for potential readers I won't elaborate too much, but I felt it was unnecessaraly sad and almost half hearted. According to the introduction, Bronte adappted her original ending at the request of her publisher who felt it was too sad, and so changed it to what it is, leaving it up to the reader to decide.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A far more mature work than Jane Eyre, 15 Oct 2006
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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Villette has always suffered in comparison with Jane Eyre, and it's certainly a less romantic read - but all the better for that. Where Jane Eyre exists as a female fantasy, Villette gets to grips with the uncomfortable real world, where men don't miraculously fall in love with plain, earnest, clever girls and instead prefer the beautiful and dumb! From the painful depiction of unrequited love, to the ambiguous and open-to-interpretation ending, this is a more mature, assured and challenging novel than any other that Charlotte Bronte wrote.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUPERB - prepare to be enthralled!, 31 Mar 2006
By 
C. J. Chase "carojane2" (united Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
On the back of the book it says this:-
Based on Charlotte bronte's personal experience as a teacher in Brussels, Villette, is a moving tale of repressed feelings and subjection to cruel circumstance and position, borne with heroic fortitude. Rising above the frustrations of confinement within a rigid social order, it is also a story of a woman's right to love and be loved.
I note from some reviews that many people missed the point of this wonderful book. It is a beautifully written, poignant story. It is not supposed to be a fast-paced, modernised tale, but a beautifully written, richly embroidered account of the young life of a woman alone in the world seeking peace and independence. In a society where women did not normally go out alone and where rank and wealth were important, our heroine struggled with life. Charlotte Bronte graphically describes the heroine whose strength of character and kind, long-suffering personality earns rewards in the end. I did not feel the ending was uncertain or lacked meaning, but had I felt unsure of it, I would still define this book as one of the great reads of my life. I found it a privilege to read about characters who lived in an age long forgotten, and brought to life so colourfully, as told from one who lived it.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars why isn't this the Charlotte Bronte novel that we read?, 6 Nov 2000
By A Customer
I would just like to add my praise of this book to that of the other reviewers. For whilst we may be enticed be the romance at the heart of Jane Eyre, Villette, as a later novel shows far better writing both in structure and description. In Lucy Snowe C.B also finds a narrator through whom she can successfully 'speak'. It is an unusual novel in its plot, setting and ending; far less 'victorian' than Jane Eyre (even if we allow C.B. the happy coincidences that litter the novel) ,this is a work which deserves to be more widely read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reader, I really like Villette, 28 May 2012
By 
Stracs "Stracs" (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
By the time I had forced myself through the first volume of Villette I was seriously concerned I would not be able to finish it, which bothers me as I hate it when I feel defeated by a book. I persisted, however, and am so glad I did because Volume 2 was a massive improvement and Volume 3 utterly captured my heart. I finished the book last week and cannot stop thinking about it, so much has it grabbed hold of my imagination. I wont summarise the plot as others have done so, but instead will give my thoughts on the what I disliked and what I loved about Villette.

Firstly, the dislikes. It is a shame that Volume 1 is a let down, because asides from this then Villette would probably be more highly thought of than Jane Eyre. I found Volume 1 simply too relentlessly depressing for even my serious literary tastes. At this stage of the book Lucy Snowe, well and truly lives up to her name - she is a cold, unsympathetic character reluctant to give away her feelings and thoughts which is never appealing in a narrator. The first few chapters regarding Lucy's time in Bretton feel very disjointed from the rest of the volume, and it is only once you get into Volume 2 that their presence in the novel make any sense. I can see that Bronte was trying to create an element of suspense and suprise here (which I won't give away here), but to me those chapters could still have been better integrated into the rest of the volume.

Now the likes. Bronte's prose is a delight to read, and sits well even to the modern reader. Sometimes the direct appeal to the "reader" can be a bit jarring but on the whole her style is very appealing. The best thing about Villette, though, is the characters. The plot is pretty thin, as is often the way with literature of this period, but that matters not a jot as the characters are more than enough to hold the interest. As I have already said, I found Lucy a hard to like character in the first volume but after that I really grew to love her. Bronte peels away layers of Lucy's psychology like peeling away layers of an onion, gradually revealing more and more about her to the reader until you really come to feel like you know and understand her. She is also quite an unusual character for this period - a woman who takes control of her own life and earns an independent living, unreliant on anyone else for anything - and this makes her very appealing. There are a number of other characters who make fascinating reading. For me I thought M. Paul was easily able to stand up to Mr Darcy and Mr Rochester in the annals of romantic yet moody leading men. Dr John and Mme Beck are also full of character and come to life on the page.

I think I liked the ending, despite it's ambiguity, although I am still debating this with myself internally even now. Whilst Bronte has left the ending up to the reader's imagination, to me it is quite clear what her intention for the ending was and she was put off from it by the publisher who felt it would be too sad. I really wish she had had the courage of her convictions and written it the way she wanted. Whilst I don't mind an ambiguous ending normally, here I felt here that the reader deserved and needed a more definate ending given that by this point the reader has invested so much in Lucy's fate.

All in all though, Villette is a splendid read which, if you can persist past the first volume, will very likely capture a place in your heart and for this is is well worth a read.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you thought Jane Eyre was good..., 5 April 2007
By 
Then definitely read this!

I liked Jane Eyre very much, but it was Villette that really captured my imagination and heart. In my opinion (though I realise it is verging on this criminal to admit this) it is better than Jane Eyre - it certainly has more depth, the plot is far superior, and it's just... more enjoyable. I admit that JE has the irreplaceable Mr Rochester, but Villette has Mousieur Paul, a Rochesterian (?) character himself - idiosyncratic, harsh, domineering, austere, and yet simultaneously attractive. I preferrd him to Rochester as he, and his love for the protagonist Lucy Snowe, is more believable, and has more depth.

The only thing I would say is that unless your French is pretty good don't buy the Oxford edition - there is a lot of French dialogue, and OUP clearly didn't want to spend the money on paper and ink to translate it all - which I found extremely frustrating.

Overall - a fantastic book to curl up with and lose yourself in - it is one of my favourites!
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superior work of fiction; intelligent and entertaining, 5 May 2002
In Villette, Charlotte Bronte creates a work of fiction which rivals in complexity with the better known Jane Eyre. In it, the heroine, Lucy Snowe, goes to France to find work and a home, having no friends or relatives to support her,and enroles as a governess in a boarding school. The story follows her through her life and her journey in an unfamiliar world, but never the less one she manages to work in.
Lucy Snowe is a girl who has learnt from a very early age to hide her feelings and - attempts - to control her despairs and desires. On the outside she appears to be a very solemn creature, but one who does not suffer as much as the 'real' Lucy does. She has suffered through her life a series of misfortunes which are only hinted at, particularly the events taking place in her childhood, and the end of the book hints at yet another tragedy - I won't say any more.
I enjoyed this book much more than I did Jane Eyre, probably because the character was, to me at least, more interesting. Lucy was slightly sarcastic, and the illusion she cultivates throughout the book enables her to take the role of observer, drawing us into lives of the people around her and the conflicts which they are quite public about, and the conflicts taking place within herself, which are much more private.
Although this book is quite long, with a huge opportunity for becoming slow and boring, it never becomes dull or loses pace. I loved reading it, the descriptions at the beginning of the book really appealed to me, and I would recommend it to just about anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual love story., 10 Mar 1999
By A Customer
An undeservedly neglected novel by the author of Jane Eyre. Villette is the continental city to which friendless, penniless and plain Lucy Snowe travels in an attempt to earn a living. Despite outbreaks of purple prose and Victorian religious musings, the book is full of wit, the story unusual, the characters engaging and the ambiguous ending a masterpiece.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars charming...tragic?, 24 Oct 2002
By 
Nicholas - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I found myself reading this novel after Jane eyre and wuthering heights (as i am sure most readers probably will) but it is just possible that this book surpasses even those wonderful novels. Lucy snowe is a charming though somewhat unfortunate character who the reader can immediately identify with and other characters (M paul, Paulina) prove almost equally appealing. a tremendous plot that truly does keep the reader guessing also helps to propell the novel along and the last hundred pages or so unravel in a flurry of drama. Some readers have pointed out that they are unsure as to the endings meaning though it is fairly obvious I thought if read a few times. A truly essential item.
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Villette (Wordsworth Classics)
Villette (Wordsworth Classics) by Charlotte Bronte (Paperback - 7 Oct 1993)
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