Villette by Charlotte Bronté

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Arguably Brontë’s most refined and deeply felt work, Villette draws on her profound loneliness following the deaths of her three siblings. Lucy Snowe, the narrator of Villette, flees from an unhappy past in England to begin a new life as a teacher at a French boarding school in the great cosmopolitan capital of Villette. Soon Lucy’s struggle for independence is overshadowed by both her friendship with a worldly English doctor and her feelings for an autocratic schoolmaster. Brontë’s strikingly modern heroine must decide if there is any man in her society with whom she can live and still be free.

Villette by Charlotte Brontë
Published 1853 (under Currer Bell) by Smith, Elder & Co.
Format: e-book; 432 pages
Classics/Romance/Gothic Fiction
Also By This Author: Jane EyreShirley
AmazonGoodreads
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

Villette took me months to finish; 10 months to be exact. It may be surprising, therefore, that I would give this book a 4-star rating, but despite feeling like a sloth trying to force my way through the majority of this novel, the last 50-60 pages made the sluggish journey completely worth it.

Villette, much like its beloved sister-novel Jane Eyre, is a gothic Victorian love story involving a persevering, deep-feeling narrator and a misunderstood, secretly caring Byronic hero. Unlike Jane Eyre, Miss Lucy Snowe is an unreliable, often unlikable narrator. I actually had a hard time desiring good things for her until the final chapters. I won’t sugar coat it; being inside her mind was annoying at times. She was judgmental and behaved bitterly towards most of her companions. Charlotte Brontë purposefully gave her an icy surname.

Honestly, I was very disinterested in Villette until the climax of the story and from that point on I was hooked. The long-awaited sentimentality that Charlotte Brontë excelled at did not disappoint. On the contrary, it was so lovely I probably would have cried if I hadn’t been reading it at work (I happily sobbed through the ending of Jane Eyre from the privacy of my bedroom).

It also helps to know that Villette borrows from real events in the author’s life. It could even be called autobiographical in many ways. If you’ve already read Villette or you don’t mind major spoilers, here’s an excellent analysis of the novel and Charlotte’s connection to Lucy Snowe.

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy classic gothic literature (think Jane EyreNorthanger Abbey, or even Edgar Allan Poe).
…you love unrequited love stories.
…you can enjoy a book even if the main character is unpleasant or hard to sympathize with.
…you love captivating conclusions (Villette will intrigue you and stay on your mind long after you finish it).

Final Musings

There was a 1970s miniseries of Villette, but alas! It has been lost. Unfortunately this is the case for numerous British miniseries from the 1970s and earlier. Frankly I think it’s horrible and I’m really upset because I would love to watch all of the literary-inspired shows!

There are also two different radio dramatizations of Villette that BBC Radio has produced, but I haven’t found a way to listen to them, yet :(

Jane Austen Book Tag

I was tagged by Deanna at Deanna Writes to do the Jane Austen Book Tag! I know I’m seriously behind in my Jane Austen posts for this month, but I’m back now with something fun and festive for Austen in August :)

Sense and Sensibility
A book with a dynamic sibling relationship

littlewomen

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – I love the complex relationship between the March daughters :)

Pride and Prejudice
A book that didn’t seem interesting at first

MTLGTM

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link (part of My True Love Gave to Me) – This short story took me a  few pages to get into, but by the end it had become my favorite addition in this book!

Emma
A book in which two close friends fall in love

Little Dorrit

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens – I’ve only seen the miniseries adaptation of this book, and I know there is much, much more to the story than the romance, but I still enjoyed that aspect of the novel :)

Mansfield Park
A book with a ‘rags to riches’ storyline

janeeyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – I feel like the theme of “rags to riches” can be applied multiple ways in this story. Obviously Jane goes from having nothing besides her good conscience and kind heart to having everything that could make her happy and more, but Mr. Rochester also has a bit of this story line himself, he just has to lose all of his material possessions in order to realize it.

Persuasion
A book involving second chances

thetimekeeper

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom – most of Albom’s novels revolve around the theme of second chances, but this one also shows us the importance of each person’s life in the grand scheme of things.

Northanger Abbey
A book with an imaginative character

AoGG

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery – Let’s be honest…Anne Shirley’s Haunted Woods fiasco is right up Catherine Morland’s lane (and mine, too!).

And now I tag anyone else who wants to make their own Jane Austen Book Tag post :) Enjoy!

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Books!

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Whew! I took an unexpected week off from blogging and I think it did me a lot of good. I’m going through some personal things at the moment, some of which I’m hoping to post about tomorrow on my late February wrap-up.

But for now, let me ease back into blogging with my favorite meme, Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)! This week’s topic is about our favorite books. For a long time now I’ve had a very stable Top 5, so for today I had to decide on my top 6-10, which was hard! I almost cheated…

Top Ten Favorite Books

AoGG Pride and Prejudice janeeyre Persuasion Harry Potter

attachments IMG_2049 tokillamockingbird littlewomen Hamlet

Anne of Green Gables is my all-time favorite book, but Anne of the Island should be on this list, too! I only left it out to make room for some others. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Persuasion are so close I could easily switch them around. Yes, my favorite Harry Potter book is the last! Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows made me feel all the feels, and I thought it was the perfect ending to a favorite series. The rest of the books on this list probably don’t belong in that order, but I haven’t given it much thought before now. Those would be my next favorites, though. Attachments is my favorite book from this decade, so far. Short Straw Bride is my favorite historical novel. What else can I say to justify To Kill a Mockingbird‘s place in my heart and on this list? Little Women is another book that makes me feel so deeply! And Hamlet has always been, and most likely always will be, my favorite Shakespearean play (and favorite play in general, for that matter), no matter how cliché it sounds :)

There you have it: my ten favorite books! Do you like any of my favorites? And what are your most beloved reads??

Top Ten Tuesday: Romance Novels

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about what we like and dislike in romance novels. I actually wish there was another term for “romance novel,” because it automatically brings to my mind those old Harlequin paperbacks with Fabio-esque characters on the cover. In reality, the romance genre is very wide and varied, and they don’t all feature Fabio.

What I Like in Romance Novels:

  1. Hilarious and often embarrassing situations.
    Yes, I love laughing out loud, but I also love the aftermath of embarrassing situations when characters make amends and you find out how likable they really are :)
    Fiance muchado
  2. Pride-and-Prejudice-types of romances.
    Lizzie and Darcy’s relationship is classic, and I don’t care how often I see it repeated in other romances. If it’s done well, there’s a high probability that I’m going to love it.
    NorthandSouth AoGG
  3. Unrequited love and tragic situations.
    I don’t care how sad these types of books are, I love unrequited love stories (especially if it’s no longer unrequited at the end). I also feel the same way about tragic books, when a fictional couple faces a dramatic conflict and they have to recover from it. I learn a lot of lessons from those types of novels.
    senseandsensibility janeeyre
  4. Letters! (or emails or text messages)
    I think Jane Austen said it best: “Let us never underestimate the power of a well-written letter.”
    attachments meanttobe Persuasion
  5. Character growth.
    I always enjoy a story with deep and well-developed characters. One of my biggest bookish pet peeves is trying to suffer through a novel, especially a romance, when the characters are utterly flat and unmotivated. (these books definitely show great character growth!)
    lastbestkiss sisterhoodeverlasting
  6. Deep themes and serious issues.
    I love books that make me feel those deeper emotions. When it comes to romantic books, I really enjoy the ones that deal with sad, and even dark issues unrelated to the central romance. Also, maybe I just like books that move me to tears because that means it’s some pretty powerful writing.
    secondchancesummer mara dyer Redeeming Love

What I Dislike in Romance Novels:

  1. CHEESINESS.
    I can handle one or two clichés, but a whole book full of them? Not so much.
  2. Explicit descriptions and foul language.
    Nope. I don’t finish any book, from any genre, that is overtly explicit/graphic or that includes too much foul language. Nothing turns me off quicker than seeing a dozen curse words splattered across a single paragraph, especially when they’re the weirdest and rarest ones I’ve ever heard. If an author can put THAT much creativity into which curse words their characters spew, surely they can come up with some less abusive vocabulary? (ok, rant is over–see, I told you it bothers me!)
  3. Unrealistic characters, plot lines, or dialogue.
    If it’s unbelievable, it’ll be unenjoyable for me too.
  4. Characters who are obsessed with their significant others.
    I’m talking New Moon Edward and Bella obsessed. I don’t want to read books where characters mope around and don’t know how to survive when their significant other leaves them or is gone for one day. It’s pathetic, dangerous, and in the case of Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, just plain creepy.

What’s your favorite romance novel? Do you share any of my pet peeves or favorite motifs when it comes to romances?

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters Who Inspire Me

toptentuesdayToday’s Top Ten Tuesday meme (hosted by the lovely ladies of The Broke and The Bookish) is pretty open! Basically, we pick ten characters who do something. So I thought all day about a characteristic that I’d really like to examine a bit more closely, and finally at 11pm my time, it came to me!

Top Ten Characters Who Inspire Me

  1. Emma Woodhouse (from Pemberley Digital’s Emma Approved– A far more likeable modern version of my least favorite Jane Austen heroine, this Emma is all about the self-empowerment! She’s constantly encouraging (and sometimes forcing) every woman she meets to be the best they can be, without being someone they’re not. The most inspiring thing about Emma is that she’s always persistent when it comes to achieving a goal; nothing is impossible with hard work and the right attitude.
  2. Anne Shirley (from the Anne of Green Gables series) – Of course I would have to include my favorite fictional character in this list. I adore Anne’s creativity, open-mindedness, and her wild imagination. One of my favorite things she did was create a short-story club with her friends, where they would get together to share and critique their stories with each other. Plus she headed up I don’t know how many clubs and improvement projects. Definitely an over-achiever and take-charge kind of woman!
  3. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë’s beloved heroine) – Although I in no way envy Jane Eyre’s life, I do admire and respect many of her wonderful qualities. The ones that inspire me the most are her unfailing talent to forgive those who hurt her the most, her unfaltering senses of morality and self-respect, and her revolutionary ability of knowing what she deserved out of life. For a mid-19th century lower class orphan, Jane Eyre never believed she didn’t deserve happiness, but she certainly wouldn’t sacrifice her self-respect to obtain it. She’s also extremely good-hearted and patient.
  4. Beatrice “Tris” Prior (from the Divergent series) – I’m late in joining the Divergent fan club, but I am happy to admit that I finally read the novels (just so I could see the movie–I’m one of those “I always read the book” first type of gals)! Although this isn’t my favorite series, as I felt there were many things missing from the novels, I did love all the strong female characters! I definitely respect this trend going on at the moment. I related a lot to Tris: I know without a doubt that I would be a Divergent just like her, and I also would choose the Dauntless faction. My current mantra is “be brave,” and I owe it all to Tris’s bravery for giving me the courage to conquer some of the difficult tasks I’ve had to face lately.
  5. Atticus Finch (from To Kill a Mockingbird) – Where to begin?! Atticus Finch is essentially the perfect parent. He’s intelligent, wise, patient, honorable, good, virtuous, AND he has a sense of humor. He leads by example and encourages his children to love and respect people, not the way the world would tell them to, but they way they deserve to be loved and respected. He doesn’t hide the ugliness of the world from his children, but he gradually opens their eyes to it in doses they can handle and come to terms with. Atticus Finch inspires me not only to be an inspiring parent one day, but he inspires me to be a good person each and every day.
  6. Scout Finch (from To Kill a Mockingbird) – I couldn’t pick just one member of the Finch clan. Scout is one of my all-time favorite narrators. I love her young and innocent perspective of the world because it is so inspiring. She sees through the hard and calloused exteriors of people to their real, vulnerable hearts. Scout lives during a time of extreme social and racial prejudices, issues that would generally anger and disgust me, but through the pure and unblemished eyes of Scout, I finished this novel completely awestruck and inspired to find people I could treat as nicely as Scout and her father and brother did.
  7. Joanna Robbins (from Karen Witemeyer’s Stealing the Preacher) – I enjoy reading Christian Historical Romances from time to time, but I’ll admit they’re usually pretty cheesy. Karen Witemeyer is my favorite author in that genre, though, and it’s because she creates plot lines that aren’t cheesy, and her characters are so strong and inspiring that I feel uplifted for quite some time after reading her books. A quality that I admired about one of her heroines, Joanna Robbins, was accepting our physical appearances as God-given and something we shouldn’t feel ashamed about. Joanna herself wasn’t too keen on her red hair. Now I have red hair but I’ve always loved it so I must be the odd carrot-top out ;) But there are plenty of other things about my appearance that I don’t like, and I felt inspired by what Joanna said when she found herself downcast about her unusual hair color; she reminds herself that it is a gift from God: “Don’t despise it because it is different. See the beauty in His gift.”
  8. Esther (from The Bible) – If you ask most Christian women who their favorite woman of the Bible is, most likely they will say Esther. But if you know her story you will understand why. Esther is bold, courageous, and full of faith, and in many ways she would be the perfect heroine in a YA dystopian novel. She risks her life to protect her family and to do the right thing, and in a dire situation she summons the bravery to speak one of the most inspirational lines in the Bible: “If I perish, I perish.” It just makes me want to run into battle to defend all the things I believe in!
  9. Anne Elliot (from Jane Austen’s Persuasion) – I seem to take a liking to literary heroines named Anne ;) This Anne is probably my favorite Austen heroine. I know most people would choose Elizabeth Bennet, and although I myself take after Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey, good-hearted and pure Ms. Elliot just inspires me so much! She has a subtle yet much appreciated talent of bringing out the best in others (kind of like Emma, whom I mentioned at the top of this list, but not so much in-your-face), and there’s not a mean or malicious bone in her body. She thinks the best of everyone and is constantly looking for ways to serve others. Plus, she’s the type of person you would want near you in a crisis; she’ll be completely calm and manage to get everything done while the rest of the world freaks out or faints.
  10. Ginny Weasley (from the Harry Potter series) – My favorite Weasley :) I always admired Ginny’s strong will and fearless attitude. We don’t see much of her early on in the series, but in the last few books she becomes quite popular among the Dumbledore’s Army crowd, mainly because “she’s a beast,” as my old Cross Country pals would have said. I’d be afraid to face her in a battle or Quidditch game, but I’d love teaming up with her because I know she’d help me to be brave and bold when I’d naturally want to back down. Also, and spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t read Harry Potter, but I don’t care what J.K. Rowling said recently; Harry belongs with Ginny, just like she wrote it, and not with Hermione.

There you have it! Which characters inspire you the most? Does anyone from my list make yours as well? I kept this list to literary characters, but there are plenty of screen characters who inspire me as well!

Announcing: Wuthering Heights Read-Along

WutheringHeightsA few months ago I participated in a Jane Eyre read-along hosted by the lovely Kerry at Entomology of a Bookworm. It was my first time reading Charlotte Brontë’s beloved novel, and I came to adore it so much that I decided to give her sister Emily’s novel, Wuthering Heights, a second chance. The first and only time I read Wuthering Heights was in 2003, back when I was just a freshman in high school. At that time I enjoyed reading it, despite my dislike for the main characters. But as the years passed, I came to really despise them and I put off any desire of ever reading the novel again.

Fortunately, thanks to the skill and beauty of Charlotte Brontë’s writing, I have decided to give Wuthering Heights a well-deserved second chance. I know that Emily Brontë writes beautifully as well, and at least now that I know what to expect from the main characters, I will not be disappointed. Also, what is the new year for if not to start over fresh? ;) Now I am actually quite excited to revisit this tortured love story!

And to make it even more exciting, thanks to the encouragement of my good friend Jorie at Jorie Loves a Story, I have decided to turn this into a group read along! Whether you are like me and you want to give Wuthering Heights a second chance, or if you’ve never read it, OR (and especially) if this is your favorite novel of all time, I’d love for you to join in with me!

Here is the tentative schedule (I say tentative because we all know how hectic the holiday season can get!)

Week 1 (January 5-January 11): Chapters I-IX
Week 2 (January 12-January 18): Chapters X-XVII
Week 3 (January 19-January 25): Chapters XVIII-XXVI
Week 4 (January 26-February 1): Chapters XXVII-XXXIV (End)

Let me know in the comments if you would like to join in! I think January is going to be a wonderful time to read this novel :)

Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Reading

toptentuesdayI’ve seen this meme from The Broke and the Bookish quite frequently on several of the bookish blogs I follow, and I finally decided to jump on the bandwagon. I only wish I had done so sooner because the past two memes I would have loved to answer! I think I’ll still do them though, maybe for the next two meme questions which don’t strike my fancy as much :)

So without further ado, here is my post for the Top Ten Best Books To Read During Halloween (in no particular order):

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  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – I love the gothic elements in this novel, and it is guaranteed to freak you out if you’re like me and find yourself reading until the wee hours of the morning.
  • The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe – I first read this short story in 8th grade and it is still freaks me out just thinking about what the main character does at the end (no spoilers from me)! If you love books and themes that involve disguises, then check this one out.
  • The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe – Poe is the master of short stories, especially gothic ones. I would recommend any of his works for Halloween reading, but this one is full of creepy imagery.

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  • Macbeth by Shakespeare – This is what I am currently reading, and it definitely fits the Halloween atmosphere with its witches, murder, and ghosts. And it also revolves around the theme of “nothing is as it appears.”
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling – To me, this is the most Halloween-ish of the Harry Potter books. There is lots of mystery and suspense, as well as other dark gothic elements. I love the film version of this movie as well, especially how everything seems to have this foggy grey filter.
  • A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner – (I picked a French cover for this one because the English one was wayyy to creepy) this is (so far) the only thing I’ve read by William Faulkner that I actually like, and that may be because of how it is written. There are no 10-page long sentences! And I do love the suspense he creates.

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  • The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell – Another short story I was introduced to in the 8th grade (I had an amazing English teacher!). The premise: being hunted (literally) by a psychopath.
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker – A classic. I don’t know if I need to say more about why this is on my list.
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Another classic, but this one surprised me when I first read it in 12th grade. I enjoyed it a lot more than most of my peers did at the time. Fun fact: Shelley originally wrote this for a horror story competition she was having with some friends, including her husband Percy Shelley and Lord Byron.
  • The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne – Ok, so half of these entries are short stories, but I love short stories! This one has a great moral and a climactic ending.

What are some of your favorite spooky reads?