Thursday, March 31, 2011

Villette Read-Along: Final Thoughts

Villette (Everyman's Library (Cloth))Villette is just a lovely book, made even better by experiencing it through the read-along.  I know there were a couple of readers that were bored, but I found it very enjoyable to read.  There were only a couple of parts where I got impatient with the pace and wanted it to hurry on (most notably The Fete) and those didn't even last too long.  Overall I felt like it was quick to read, especially for a  600+ page book.

I thought the ending was perfect.  The perfect balance of happy/sad, you know? As Lucy got to know M.Paul, he became more understandable.  And even with Lucy's quirks, I thought she became more understandable as well.  She really just wanted a place to belong, didn't she?  I appreciated how all the little side stories were summed up, and each fate seemed to suit each character.

What bugged me?  The French.  My edition didn't have translations, and since I didn't want to miss anything, I ended up translating everything on Google Translator, which really slowed me down.  That was annoying.  Also, the discourse on religion toward the end would have irritated me were it not for the fact that I felt like I was hearing Charlotte Bronte's own opinions.

What did I appreciate?  How complex a character Lucy was.  Her story was easy to read, but deep and layered--offering whatever level of introspection you're comfortable with.  I really enjoyed the writing, as well.

Since I've posted my thoughts throughout the process of reading, I think I'll take this space to leave some of my favorite quotes.  (Links to my previous posts about Villette are at the bottom, for reference)

(from page 48)  While I loved, and while I was loved, what an existence I enjoyed!

(from page 75) I knew I was catching at straws; but in the wide and weltering deep where I found myself, I would have caught at cobwebs.

(from page 319) Really that little man was dreadful: a mere sprite of caprice and ubiquity: one never knew either his whim or his whereabout.

(from page 329) No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness.  What does such advice mean?  Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure.

(from page 452) At last, I struck a sharp stroke on my desk, opened my lips, and let loose this cry:--
"Long live England, History and Heroes! Down with France, Fiction and Scoundrels!"
The class was struck of a heap. I suppose they thought me mad.  The professor put up his handkerchief, and fiendishly smiled into its folds.  Little monster of malice!

(from page 461) Silence is of different kinds, and breathes different meanings...

(from page 487) Yes, you were born under my star! Tremble! for where that is the case with mortals, the threads of their destinies are difficult to disentangle; knottings and catchings occur--sudden breaks leave damage in the web.

(from page 506) ...his mind was indeed my library, and whenever it was opened to me, I entered bliss.

(from page 579) Some real lives do--for some certain days or years--actually anticipate the happiness of Heaven...

(from page 618) To see and know the worst is to take from Fear her main advantage.


  1. I, too really enjoyed the book. Good idea to list your favorite quotes. I have so many that really touched me and each for different reasons. I am trying to figure out how to write about them - as a blog post, in my personal journal, both? Decisions, decisions!

  2. While I was reading, I was really curious to see what everyone would think about the ending. I'm with you-- it was pretty perfect. I'm surprised that it doesn't reflect Bronte's orignal intentions.

    It is kind of funny that we seem to have made the same points about the novel, though our overall conclusions were a bit different. When it comes to Bronte's talent, we are in complete agreement. At times, I even found myself feeling a bit sad that such brilliant women didn't get to experience more joy in real life.

  3. I'm so glad you joined in the reading! It really made a difference for me to have everyone discussing it.

    Those quotes are brilliant... weren't there just so many of them??? My whole booked is marked up with flags -- her language was wonderful.

    My edition had the translations, but I imagine it would have been very tedious to read if not. For that reason I will highly recommend the Barnes and Noble translation to anyone who is interested in reading it in the future.


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