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Lacking close friends or family, Lucy Snowe - a plain, but intelligent young woman, who, beneath her seemingly self-controlled and ordinary exterior, possesses a strong and passionate heart - leaves England for Brussels where she takes employment as a teacher at a girls' school. At the school, Lucy is plagued by the headmistress Mme Beck, a jealous and suspicious woman, whose constant scrutiny of Lucy's every move, Lucy finds rather wearing; she also finds herself under the critical gaze of the sarcastic and irascible Paul Emanuel, a professor at the school and a man with whom Lucy, after an initial difficult period of adjustment, gradually builds an interesting friendship. Lucy is also plagued by one of the pupils, Ginevra Fanshawe, a beautiful, but vain and flighty girl, who has attracted the romantic attentions of Doctor John Bretton, a handsome and good-humoured young man, whom Lucy finds herself becoming very attracted to, despite acknowledging the futility of her feelings being reciprocated...

'Villette' was Charlotte Brontë's final novel and the story is based on the author's own experience of working as a teacher in a school in Brussels, where she was deeply unhappy and where she fell in love with a married schoolmaster, who did not reciprocate her feelings. As such, this original and psychologically acute novel - which is at least as good as 'Jane Eyre' and even better in some respects - is suffused with passion, pain and loneliness and is a marvellous story which makes for compelling reading. I first read this years ago and, keen to read it again, I treated myself to the Penguin Clothbound Classics edition ('Villette') this time around - however, before embarking on the full-length novel, I decided to listen to the BBC dramatisation. Although, naturally, the story has been condensed for the drama, it does give a good flavour of the novel, and with some accomplished performances by Harriet Walter, Catherine McCormack, Joseph Fiennes and Keira Knightley and some wonderfully atmospheric music, this was a very enjoyable listening experience. However, although I am happy to recommend this dramatisation, if you can devote the time to it, do please read the full-length version - it's very much worth the time spent on it.

5 Stars.
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on 26 April 2017
When I started the book, I wondered how the story would keep my attention but Charlotte Bronte is such an author! She develops her characters to become so much part of my life that, in the end, I didn’t even want to let go of Lucy Snowe or any of those characters who were part of her world – although I was even told what happens to them until their death! Her study of human nature, motivation, behaviour and emotions is engrossing. She paints the inner and outer world of women in those days and sheds light into the rebellion of Lucy against the ideas prevailing at the time.
Lucy, a young woman doomed to a grim and dismal life of poverty in England, risks it all by seeking her fortune in France even without knowledge of the language. Her hard work and integrity is rewarded in the end. With little hope of finding love in her situation, her struggles lead her to the most loyal of friendships. It is a timeless heart-warming story with the deepest and most detailed character study. A pleasure to read. THE ISLAND GIRL
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on 11 April 2017
While this is not Jane Eyre, it is still interesting. I did not find it fascinating, but yet was always happy to pick it up again. It is a strange book and I would guess not for everyone, but you may enjoy it as I did.
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on 2 April 2017
Love Bronte as always. Tested my school girl French. Would have liked one more chapter to round it up. Compelling and complex.
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on 27 July 2017
I love Jane Eyre, but this book was just a drag. I was glad to finish it TBH.
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on 15 August 2017
Not my favourite
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on 27 March 2017
Enjoyed reading this book. Catching up on the classics! Catching up on some classics!
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on 28 April 2017
Good edition of this 19th century classic novel. Easy to read. However, there is quite a lot of moralising, which is what you expect from novels of this period.
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on 12 June 2017
Sadly I haven't read much of it so far. i'll get back to it shortly. I do not like my recency acquired Kindle as much as my six-yeat-old model.
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on 22 March 2017
Very wordy compared to these days' snappy style, but a change of pace does no harm if you have the space in your head to be patient. Plenty of suspense.
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