Amy Reads Books

Villette (Vintage Classics)

Villette - Charlotte Brontë I read Jane Eyre for my GCSE coursework; and, being totally honest, didn't enjoy it. It did have a compelling plot, what with the mad woman in the attic thing, but there was something about it that left me rather cold.However, I own copies of Villette and Shirley, Charlotte Bronte's other novels, and hoped that by reading these that she would join her sisters Anne & Emily as one of my favourite authors. However, she hasn't quite made it.Villette, like Jane Eyre, is a first person narrative, which acknowledges the reader, and is from the perspective of Lucy Snowe. She is a young orphan who lives with the Bretton family, then works as a companion, before heading out to Europe, to a French-speak country, where she becomes a teacher at the Villette school for girls, run by Madame Beck.The problem I had with Villette was pretty much the opposite to the one I had with Jane Eyre, the latter had a great plot but pretty annoying (in my opinion) characters, whereas this novel had vibrant supporting characters, but a plot that didn't really pick up until the last section. I liked the spoiled vapidness of Ginerva and the various natures of the different teachers at Villette; especially Monsieur Emmanuel with his fiery temper although I was pretty unhappy that Bronte chose him as the love interest for Lucy, he didn't really strike me as...nice enough!. Bronte's descriptions were also wonderful, really evoking the town and the characters-I even found myself smiling at some of them.However, I was frustrated at the lack of plot pushing the tale forward; most of all, I was annoyed that Lucy was an observer, that we knew nothing much about her, and instead were told a lot about the other characters. This was a shame, as I liked Snowe's voice more than Eyre's, yet knew a lot less about her.Villette is by no means a bad novel, it's supporting characters are interesting, and if the debate between Catholicism and Protestantism is something that interests you then there is a massive amount of discussion of that in the novel. However, it didn't help change my perception of Charlotte Bronte. I'm hoping that maybe Shirley will be third time lucky!