Thursday, March 3, 2011

Villette Read-Along: Chapters 16-20

Villette (Everyman's Library (Cloth))You know what you get when you follow instructions without looking into it further or asking questions when you notice something odd?  You get a break, that's what...35 pages less to read at the last minute than you'd thought.  I can't say I'm complaining.  Today, Wallace at Unputdownables (who is hosting this fun read-along) noticed that her starting post listed the chapters incorrectly.  So it was a nice surprise this morning when I found out that I didn't have to jam in another 2 chapters after all.

Now, nearly at the halfway point of the book, I have to say that the biggest surprise for me has been how modern the book feels.  Not only in density, but in ideas.  I remain surprised how fluid the writing is.  Apart from the bits in French which slow me up (because I can't stand not knowing what they are saying so I type everything into Google Translator) most of the text has been rather light.  That isn't to say that the book is simple or fluffy, because it isn't that at all.  It has layers, nuances, complexity; it makes you think about what is happening.

Lucy Snowe is certainly an intriguing character.  I'm loving the little internal monologue that we, as readers, are privy to.  These bits, along with the ideas she expressed about the art she was viewing, and the depiction of Graham's relationship with his mom all seem to have such modern sensibilities.  I can almost see the story taking place in a modern setting without changing a thing.

[possible spoilers ahead] Anyone notice how Lucy enjoys M.Paul?  At the concert she says "I smiled to myself as I watched him," and at the museum she seems to enjoy taunting him about the art work.  I'm wondering if something will develop there, or if I'm reading into it.  I'm hoping that she doesn't pin her hopes on Graham. [end possible spoliers]

If you are reading (or have read) Villette, what do you think about the pace and style?  Has anything stood out to you as seeming more modern than Victorian?  


  1. You're welcome for the mess up... I was actually a little thrilled too as it means I get to slowly read just two chapters this week instead of 5!

    I agree 100% about the writing. I adore the way that Bronte puts words together. Sometimes I mark passages just because she wrote them so well. Truly a testament to her intellect.

    I would say her stance on women is pretty modern. It is almost like we are reading a piece of historical fiction (where the protagonist has the hindsight to make fun of the situations) than actual fiction that is historical!

    I too enjoy her her rel'p with M. Paul and am noticing it more. I'm with you... ditch Dr. John please, Lucy.

  2. I agree about the book having something of a modern feel. The status of women was so different in the 19th century that I am used to seeing that reflected, at least in part, in the books I read from that era. These characters actually remind me of people I know or have known. Do you think the fact that Bronte is a woman is partially responsible?

  3. I have been pleasantly surprised as to how easy the book has been to read, so if that is due to what you are calling a "modern feel", I would have to agree.

    I also love how Bronte's use of language. Good example was the description of Lucy coming to her sense in Dr. Bretton's home. I just wrote "brilliant" in the margin. So many other passages throughout the book so paperback is getting quite dog-earred as a result.

  4. Wallace, I like what you said about historical fiction vs. fiction that is historical--I agree! It's like you are getting to see that inner person that you rarely get to see in older fiction...I always wished I could know how they thought about these things (like the art, relationships etc) so I'm finding it fun.

    Mindy, I think that's what I'm really feeling--the difference between how Lucy is portrayed as opposed to all the other female characters written in that era. I'm wondering if the reason we don't see more of this, even in books written by women in the era, is because the publishers were male...Thackeray's comments that Wallace posted are starting to make more sense, contextually.

    Josh's mom, yeah, I'm finding it easy to read, and that has surprised me a bit. I do love the language. There are many passages that I've marked too, although I marked with post-it notes because I can't bring myself to write in my books. :(


I'd love to hear what you have to say, leave a comment!