Sunday, 2 August 2009

Villette

And my pormanteau, with my few clothes and the little pocket-book enclasping the remnant of my fifteen pounds, where were they?
Poor Lucy Snowe. Newly arrived alone in Villette (Bronte's fictional name for Brussels) and facing that eternal traveller's nightmare. Lost luggage. As she watches each bag and box being unloaded from the stage-coach she searches in vain for the piece of green ribbon she'd tied to her bag.

I usually prefer to read long Victorian novels in the autumn and winter months, but I've been thinking about the Bronte sisters since I saw their painting in the National Portrait Gallery last month and you have to go with the flow. I do like the spirit of Lucy Snowe. On her first day teaching at Madame Beck's school for girls she pushes a troublesome student into a cupboard, locks the door, pockets the key and calmly continues with the lesson ...

9 comments:

MAD HOUSEWIFE said...

Villette is my favorite Charlotte Bronte novel. It's quieter than jane Eyre, but more mature and realistic, and I've appreciated it more with age. It was handed down to me by an aunt, and though that paperback long ago fell apart, I've replaced it and reread it.

I'm glad to see you blogging about this: nobody seems to talk about Villette.

Green Road said...

That's a lovely review, it has made me interested in this book...Im going to see if I can pick it up from the library.

Vintage Reading said...

Mad Housewife, I think you're right about appreciating Villette with age. I read it in my twenties and didn't love it like I loved Jane Eyre. Twenty years later I find I can't put it down or stop thinking about it when I'm not reading.

Green Road, not sure if you're in the UK but Villette is being serialised on Radio 4 Women's Hour this week. So convenient of them to broadcast it just while I'm reading it!

Green Road said...

Yes, I'm in the UK, in Wales. Guess it's too late for me to catch the live broadcast as I've missed half the week. I'll try to find a podcast of it, it will be something to listen to in the car.

zawan said...

I have never read Villette, but Jane Eyre is one of my favorite novels. Villette is a sort of autobiographical book.

Bloomsbury Bell said...

I have never read Villette but the timing of both your blog post and the dramatisation on Radio 4 seems to be suggesting that I should! I agree about reading Victorian novels in the winter (with endless cups of tea) but as you say we need to go with the flow and the British summer is currently a non-starter anyway!

Cath said...

It's time I read Villette perhaps. I never have, in fact there are quite a few Bronte books I've not read - The Tennant of Wildfell Hall for instance. I suspect I'm missing something special.

Rachel said...

I wrote my dissertation on the Brontes so have read all of the sisters' novels. The only one of Charlotte's I didn't enjoy was Shirley; Villette, while not as arresting as Jane Eyre, is a quiet classic and deserves to be more widely known. Its description of unrequited passion and loss and pain is wonderful, and that ambiguous 'pick your own' ending...so unexpected.

Vintage Reading said...

Zawan, I love Jayne Eyre, too. I think Villette is a more 'difficult' novel, but rewarding.

Bloomsbury Bell (love that name). Unfortunately, work has kept me from listening to Villette while it is broadcast so I'm having to catch up in the evenings. I think it's a good dramatisation.

Cath, my favourite Anne Bronte novel is Agnes Grey. In fact it's my favourite Bronte novel of all. Keep meaning to post about it.

Rachel, I just can't imagine how this is going to end. I suspect Lucy doesn't have a romance with Dr John but I can't be sure at this stage