Charlotte Brontë's Villette follows protagonist Lucy Snowe as she bounces from one career to another. First a servant, then a teacher, the hapless Snowe is besotted by family tragedy and doomed romance. Eloquent performer Davina Porter imbues the hard-working Snowe with solemnity tinged by optimism. Indeed, as an unwed, working woman in 19th-century Europe, Snowe must struggle to define herself against the prevailing gender codes of her day. Porter, known for her painstaking attention to historical detail, captures the mannerisms and conventions of Brontë's characters, lending context and veracity to this striking case study of a Victorian woman’s prospects for love, happiness, and independence.
Hailed as Charlotte Brontë’s “finest novel” by Virginia Woolf, Villette is the timeless semi-autobiographical tale of Lucy Snowe. Left with no family and no money, Lucy goes against her own timid nature and travels to the small city of Villette, France, where she becomes a school teacher in Madame Beck’s school for girls. During her stay, she falls in love—twice—and discovers an independent, inner strength rarely seen in women of her time.
Public Domain (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC
While I actually enjoyed this book, it is quite long. I also think you will have to be a Bronte fan to enjoy this story. There is quite a few conversations in French, and for those of us who do not speak the language that is quite a challenge.
This is a book for audible listeners who enjoy long classical stories.
Davina Porter is a perfect narrator for this story. Without her excellent interpretation of the characters, it would be quite a challenge to get through the whole book.
She has fantastic french. She has specific voices for each character. She uses several different accents and pulls them off very well. She puts feeling and interest into her reading. I enjoyed Davina as a narrator.
This was a good book, however there's a lot of french in it. I can read french, but it was quite annoying to miss major plot points because they were read in french, Would have been useful, if not true to the book, to translate.
Clearly our main character- I like how she took her destiny in her own hands and went for what she wanted.
Noone- she's always great
that I managed to finish this book. I couldn't believe it was finally over. I thought it would never end. It went on .. and on ... and ON ... with very little plot to boast of, and characterization alternatingly overly subtle, then hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-hammer. This book was a chore, and one I'm glad is done.
I've read about six classics by women authors this year, all books that I'd managed to avoid during my formal education years. Villette is definitely my favorite. A woman without means ventures much on a trip to a destination unknown to her, without letters of introduction or even enough coin to support herself upon arrival, and makes a go of it. At least, as "a go of it" would be defined 170 years ago in England.
My only piece of advice: Probably better read, with a good French-English dictionary at your side, unless your command of spoken French is passingly adequate.
It's always too soon to write a fair review of a great book when they always keep you thinking. 4 & 5 stars are worth repeat listenings.
At the 18 hour mark, I was wishing it would wrap up. I realize this is the age it was written.
A beautiful performance of Charlotte Bronte's highly under-appreciated (but best, in my opinion) work. Not just a reader who is good with dialects, Davina Porter is an *actress* who performs each book with passion, emotion, and full commitment.
and a penny for your thoughts
This certainly was no Jane Austen novel. It's rather uneventful, and dreary but if you love language as I do, you may like just the sound of it and Divina Porter is the best
I give Charlotte 4 stars because she evoked in me such impatience I could hardly bear it sometimes. Sadly I am much like Lucy and the author must have been also. Like the Bronte sisters' other works this one is a great experience. I am glad to have had it!
I always wanted to read Villette after Jane Eyre and recently found the time to accommodate this very long novel. Many believe that this is an autobiography of the author’s own life and experiences during her visits abroad in Europe. How much of it is real versus fiction is immaterial as the book has its own charm, romance and Victorian beliefs.
On the negative, I found the book arduously long and detailed. Also the lengthy French conversation within the book can be a put off for many people who lack the language skills to understand the ultimate meaning of the discourse. However, the story weaved around austere Lucy Snow is beautiful and even gothic. The other prominent characters are extremely colorful and they appear and disappear through the pages in admirable fluidity. Lucy’s beliefs in the Catholic faith is also ludicrously amusing. Even though the book is long you hardly find it boring for long.
In the end, there is no happy conclusion, explanation to a memorable mystery or the beginning of a new adventure. This is very unlike Jane Eyre. In that vein, I found the book lacking.
"Delivery is all."
This is a classic and worth reading for that alone. It also gives a social history.
For me it was spoilt by unenthusiastic reading and by not including a translation of some of the most important parts of the text which was, at times, in French. I have heard this done by footnote references and this would only be needed where the French is relevant to the plot etc.
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