Book review: ‘Villette’ by Charlotte Bronte

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

Lucy Snowe is the main character and the narrator of “Villette.” Villette is a community in the fictional country of Labassecour (French is the native language and appears occasionally in the book).

 Most of the story takes place in Labassecour, but it doesn’t begin there. The early chapters tell of Lucy’s childhood in the U.K., but the story really began when Lucy sailed to the continent and took a job with Madame Beck. Because of her facility with the English language, she became the school’s English teacher. M. Paul offers literature lessons to the class from time to time. He is a relative of Madame Beck and he often critiques Lucy Snowe; she doesn’t appreciate his critiques or his manner.

There are several narratives of young love in “Villette.” M. Paul and Lucy Snowe eventually derive an almost romantic friendship, but religion stands in the way of romance. M. Paul attempts to convert Lucy to Catholicism, but she is firmly Protestant. They do not marry, at least in part because of religion. M. Paul goes off to Guadalupe to take care of some business interests. Before he leaves, he procures a house for Lucy so that she may set up a new school. She pledges to wait for him.

Lucy is prosperous in her own school. With the help of a friend’s legacy, she turns her day school into a boarding school. This review does not do the story justice, primarily because of what is left out. “Villette’’ is hardly an action story, but it will hold your interest.

 “Villette” is considered the most biographical of Charlotte Bronte’s writing. She is the Bronte sister who also wrote “Jane Eyre.” The Bronte sisters are worth learning about if you do not already have that knowledge. There is a reason their 1800s writing is considered classic.

Addendum: Often fiction provides insight that we don’t get in our daily lives. “Villette” is an example from the 1800s. “All American Boys” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely is a modern example. It was published in 2015 for young readers and deals with modern race relations — taking a stand and what it can cost. Most of us would benefit from the insight.

Or sometimes fiction builds on experiences you have had. “Driftless Gold” by Sue Berg does that. Set in Wisconsin’s Driftless Region, many of the character’s experiences take place at local landmarks. Readers of mysteries or of local authors will appreciate “Driftless Gold.”

Comments are closed.

  • Royall Education Notes: Concert dates set; district likely to run referendum in April

    November 26th, 2021
    by

    Happy Thanksgiving! I hope this finds you with a full belly, surrounded by friends and family. We have had a solid start to the school year at Royall, and we continue to move forward despite the pandemic still lingering around. 


    Scenic Bluffs offers free Affordable Care Act enrollment services

    November 25th, 2021
    by

    The open-enrollment period for Marketplace insurance, also known as Affordable Care Act, is now open until Jan. 15, 2022. 


    Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7

    November 25th, 2021
    by

    Only a few days remain for Medicare enrollees to make choices about their health coverage for next year. Tuesday, Dec. 7, is the last day of Medicare’s annual open enrollment period, when decisions can be made about health and prescription coverage for 2022.


    Mile Bluff: Covid surge continues to impact access to healthcare

    November 25th, 2021
    by

    Critically high — these are the words used to classify Covid-19 disease activity in Juneau County between Nov. 3–16 (www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/local.htm). 


    Ontario Old-Fashioned Christmas is canceled

    November 25th, 2021
    by

    Citing concerns over the recent surge in Covid-19 cases, the Ontario Community Club has canceled its Old-Fashioned Christmas event, which had been set for Saturday, Dec. 11.


  • N-O-W sets special board meeting for Monday

    November 19th, 2021
    by

    The Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton Board of Education will have a special board meeting Monday.


    Sponsorships, memorial donations sought for Norwalk’s flower baskets

    November 18th, 2021
    by

    One of the highlights of driving through Norwalk in the summer are the flower baskets hanging from the light poles and the planters lining the street. 


    Juneau County moves to crisis model for Covid-19 contact tracing

    November 12th, 2021
    by

     As daily Covid-19 case counts continue to rise in Juneau County, the Juneau County Health Department no longer has the capacity to follow up with everyone who is positive with Covid-19 and their close contacts.


    Schools report lower Covid-19 figures

    November 11th, 2021
    by

    Both the Royall and the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton school districts reported low Covid-19 numbers this week. 


    Brookwood theatre to present ‘Greek Mythology Olympiaganza’

    November 4th, 2021
    by

    Brookwood will present the comic production “Greek Mythology Olympiaganza” on Friday, Nov. 5, and Saturday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 7, at 2 P.M. in the Classic Gym.


    Kendall Fest Parade results

    November 4th, 2021
    by

     The following were the winners in the Kendall Fest Parade, which was held the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.


  • Archives