‘Villette’ Review & New Books!!

 

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Before I start reviews on these lovely editions, let me start by writing on something long overdue on my blog; ‘Villette’ by Charlotte Brontë.

Both as a human being and a teacher, there passed understanding between Lucy Snowe and I.

After a series of disasters that befall the protagonist Lucy at the start of the novel; she breaks free and starts anew to work on her own merit in a French school. There’s a complexity of feeling and contradictions, by the end you truly appreciate just how many layers the reader is drawn into …her self reliance in new surroundings, her command and discipline over unruly pupils-it involved perseverance (a chapter a night in my case) Lucy too persevered through the pages. By no means faultless, she is strong in her convictions, and a willpower that could probably cut through steel. Her high depreciation for herself means she isn’t able to understand why anyone would love her, and stays much in the shadows. It contrasts against the shining qualities of Ginevra Earnshaw and little ‘Paulina’. I can only compare that Lucy has the constancy of a rock, versus Paulina’s elegance and inner shine, and perhaps- superficial glow of Ginevra.

I wanted to meet the characters and judge for myself what they were really like. It seemed that by the end you are unable to get a clear picture of any individual, which is true because it would take a lifetime (and more!) to really study the complexities of another. Lucy too grew to fondness ~

“There are people from whom we secretly shrink, whom we would personally avoid though reason confesses they are good people, those with faults of tempers …besides whom we live content as if the air about them did us good.”

A lot of French, and I only understood the basics! Sometimes I wished there would be translations in the large segments of text, but you can somehow infer from the passage the meaning, so it wasn’t a big problem. ‘Villette‘ is mysterious, religious, touching almost on the fantastical- but all are resolved and brought back into the realms of reality- from the appearance of the ghostly nun Justine Marie and the walk through the fete at midnight, induced by a drugged opium state.

The ending too leaves it open to the reader to decide- for Lucy her life has been much of disappointment and observation, she never believed anything good would come to her and yet she has experienced more emotions, more heartache and reasons to be grateful than any of the other characters. Through loss, she has gained something else. A deeper understanding and acceptance, a depth of love quite inspirational.

“I used to think what a delight it would be for one who loved him better than he loved himself, to gather and store up those handfuls of gold dust, so recklessly thrown up to heaven’s reckless winds.”

There is something about the Brontë sisters.

In Emily’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, in Anne’s ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, of Charlotte’s own ‘Jane Eyre’. What do they have in common? Though this novel touches upon Lucy’s complicated relationships and luckless romances, perhaps you can argue that they understand what it is to feel loss, to show inner strength through determination of spirit and passion; you can feel this no doubt from their novels. They makes you uncomfortable, it is unsettling. Nobody can ever confuse ‘Wuthering Heights‘ with a light or easy read. There is no promise of a happy ending. It is about accepting this is what life is, never predictable, never carefree, and definitely not safe from loss on any accounts.

Unless you are an avid literature fan, this may not be the one that opens the avenue of your hidden passion for reading classics. But, I would say it’s worth it if, like me, your passion already is to read as many and as much of them as you can get your hands on.

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