The Professor, the first novel that Charlotte Brontë completed, is based on her experiences as a language student in Brussels in 1842. Told from the point of view of William Crimsworth, the only male narrator she created, the work questions many of the presuppositions of Victorian society.
Public Domain (P)1999 Blackstone Audiobooks
I got this partly because I wanted to finish up all the Brontë novels (in advance of tonight's broadcast of To Walk Invisible) and partly because I wanted to hear something read by Frederick Davidson. It worked out well on both counts.
The Professor ends abruptly, but it's otherwise an excellent story. And it's remarkable too in having a completely credible male first-person narrator: in my experience, it's risky for writers to cross genders like that in first-person mode. But Charlotte pulls it off. And the abrupt ending isn't really much of a problem, because it's clear that the story arc is nearly finished, and the characters have all ended up in a highly satisfying configuration.
As I've said in other reviews, Frederick Davidson is an acquired taste. It wasn't till I heard him read Great Expectations that I became a fan. (Listening to him reading the Richard Sharpe novels was another treat.) He delivers the goods on this one too, with one additional grace note: Charlotte Brontë often peppers her dialogue with paragraphs of untranslated French. Davidson is the only reader I've found who pauses briefly to provide an on-the-fly translation of this dialogue - and who does it without seeming to interrupt the flow or the pace in any way.
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