Thursday, February 10, 2011

Villette Read-Along: First Impressions

Villette (Everyman's Library (Cloth))Chapters 1-5  (My copy of Villette is 657 pages of reading, and the first 5 chapters cover the first 57 pages.)

I mentioned earlier that the Villette Read-Along (hosted by Wallace at Unputdownables) is the first Read-Along I've joined...which means that this is the first time that I've put concentrated effort into forming thoughts about a book while I'm still in the process of reading it.  That's my disclaimer in case I'm going about this all wrong. :)

First impressions:
  • PACE--These pages went by at lightning speed!  I was surprised, to tell the truth.  I remember the beginning of Jane Eyre being interesting, but I don't remember it flying by.  It sure would be nice if this continued, but with another 600 pages to go, it isn't likely.
  • CHARACTERS--How did a Dickens character jump into a Bronte novel?  Is it just because I'm currently reading Our Mutual Friend that little Paulina seems to be straight up Dickens? "Relieved of her wrapping, she appeared exceedingly tiny; but was a neat, completely-fashioned little figure, light, slight, and straight.  Seated on my godmother's ample lap, she looked a mere doll; her neck, delicate as wax, her head of silky curls, increased, I thought, the resemblance."  The other characters so far are clear and pleasant, although we don't get to know them very personally, least of all Lucy Snowe, the narrator.
  • WRITING STYLE--I'm enjoying the writing style so far.  It seems to be much lighter than Jane Eyre, the reflections have an airier quality almost.  I did have to reread the analogy of the ship at sea to make sure that I didn't miss any vital information, but other than that everything has been pretty straightforward.
Observations & Thoughts
I'm intrigued by Lucy Snowe.  I want to know more about her, but at this point I'm not sure that she'll ever really open up fully.  It's as if she is reserving her inner self to protect it from the readers somehow.  She didn't want to tell us about her family, or the tragedy that forced her into a life of service; she tells us what she sees, and sometimes what she thinks, but not really what she feels.  I'm hooked--let's read more!


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think the limitations of using Snowe as a narrator will limit our ability to get to know her...unless she chooses to open up more in the next chapters.

  2. Lucy's definitely reserved, and I hope she opens up too, but I like that she's fairly unemotional because when she does get upset by things it hits you that much harder as a reader. Totally agree with you about the pacing. I was surprised how I flew through the first 50 pages.

  3. I agree with you about the lightning speed! Before I knew it, I was well into Chapter 27! I'm entranced by the characters, most especially Lucy, and perhaps part of what makes us think Dickens (for I do, too) is the time period. Or, the excellence in the quality of writing.

  4. Lucy is quiet and reserved in these chapters, more given to observing and commenting on others than talking about herself. But we can discern some things about her in this way. Still I hope she opens up, too!
    I thought Polly was a little odd! I haven't read much Dickens, especially recently, and not enough to comment on Polly bit I think that's intriguing. She's certainly very different than the other characters in this book!

    I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on Villette in the coming weeks. I think this is going to be a fun read-a-long!

  5. I guess we are all very curious about Lucy! It's quite amazing how Charlotte Bronte manages to get our attention and get us hooked on the book without disclosing much on the main character during the first 5 chapters!

  6. I don't know it there is a right or a wrong either, but I liked how you broke up your analysis. You've also gotten me intrigued about another one of the books I'm tackling this year-- Our Mutual Friend-- and I think I'll make a point to look for similarities in characterization.

  7. I awarded you the Lovely Blog Award. Enjoy!


  8. Agreed—and I never thought about Polly as a Dickens character, but now that you mention it I can definitely see it. Though, I haven't read Dickens since high school haha. I'm hoping the pace will continue to be fast too.

  9. I don't want to give away any spoilers, I've read the book before, but let me say you will grow to take Lucy Snowe very dearly to your heart. Charlotte's genius at character, and the ups and downs of their journey, never shone brighter than in Villette.


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