Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I just finished listening to Villette by Charlotte Bronte. I had read the book before but never had it read to me. I didn't expect to enjoy it quite as much as I did or be as impressed. This is an odd and impressive book. Bronte is playing so explicitly with perspective. One of the key themes in the narrative has to do with surveillance and spying--watching, perspective. Much of this is focused through the contrast in the novel between Protestant and Catholic, English and foreign (French). The country is a fictional country patterned after Belgium. Bronte herself studied in Belgium, fell in love there with a teacher. The subject of her first novel, the Professor, a key focus in this one--the love interest, in the end, of Lucy Snow.

Lot of literal spying. But also amazing little set scenes such as the evening celebration when Lucy, drugged but not quite to sleep, wanders through the lit and celebrating streets, alone, distressed, and watches. She sits close enough to listen to those she knows.

A very striking book. Not so easily lovable as Jane Eyre, also a great book. But more unsettling. My Charlotte Bronte favorite.

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