GirlGenius AVOIDS -- Villette, a failed novel
For SERIOUS WRITERS only!!
Charlotte Bronte wrote "Villette" in1853, only 6 years after writing the masterpiece "Shirley" (a review will be posted shortly). Charlotte is the oldest of the Bronte sisters -- her first novel was "Jane Eyre".
It is difficult to fathom how both these books were written by the same person! "Villette" is disjointed and jarring, the story unfolds and then gets pulled and pushed in some very strange directions.
I did read the whole book, and it was worthwhile if only to see how NOT to write a novel. There are times when you really do need to read a bad novel to appreciate a good one.
Have you ever met someone who simply cannot tell a joke properly? As I read "Villette" that thought kept crossing my mind. There are the pieces of a good story here, but you need to work to find them!
The plot revolves around a young English woman (Lucy Snowe) who goes to teach at a school in France. There are some nice moments as the two cultures are compared. For example, the students in France often refuse to do homework because "It's too boring". Instead of having some sense knocked into them, which seems to be the British approach, teachers are told to gently encourage the student to find a way to make the assignment more appealing. (This generally involves substantially dumbing things down.)
By far, the most confusing aspect of this book is the "love story". It seems as if Charlotte Bronte got distracted about half-way through writing the book, and then came back later and forgot to read what was already there.
The main character suffers the most from this lack of planning on the author's part. Lucy Snowe comes off as a whining, self-centered, annoying woman who clings to scraps of memories and false hopes.
There is heavy-handed symbolism and "complex psychology" going on here. Call it what you will -- to me, "Villette" is an outstanding example of bad writing. What makes it worse is that there are flashes of brilliance every once in a while, making you glimpse what this novel would-have, could-have, should-have been.
Like eating your vegetables, this book will be "good for you". If you ever plan to write a novel, I would consider "Villette" required reading. Otherwise, please spend your time on a more enjoyable novel.
She came from a very talented family of writers!
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More About Villette
- "Villette" a TV show in 1970 in the UK
Directed by Moira Armstrong. With Judy Parfitt, Peter Jeffrey, Mona Bruce. Visit IMDb for Photos, Showtimes, Cast, Crew, Reviews, Plot Summary, Comments, Discussions, Taglines, Trailers, Posters, Fan Sites
- Villette (novel) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia