Villette Readalong: Wrap-Up

villette-buttonI’m having a hard time knowing where to start with this post. I finally finished Villette this afternoon, while my youngest daughter sat next to me counting down the seconds until I would play a game with her (“Just give me two minutes! I need to finish this!”), so the ending was a bit rushed for me. Then I had to go back and read it again (twice) because I kept asking myself what had just happened.

I’m still not sure. My best guess is that Brontë purposefully left the ending ambiguous to allow the reader to end the story in the way they wanted. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman, with its choice of alternate endings. I do think that Brontë wanted the reader to go away with a strong image of what was (to her) the most important outcome of the story–not the romantic one, but one that showed our heroine Lucy Snowe ending up a happy, independent woman.

Despite the focus of Volume III on matters of the heart, and the various twists and turns involving other characters (the ghostly NUN! The irrepressible Ginevra! The domineering Madame Beck!), I think it’s the character of Lucy herself who is the focal point of the novel and that will stay with me after having read it. Despite it carrying the name of the town, Villette is really mostly about Lucy, an exploration of one ordinary woman’s desire to make a life for herself–to find someone and something in the world that she can call her own, having been born into a life that granted her no favors.

There are so many layers to this book, from classical allusions to French phrases, so many themes that are explored and such richness of language. It’s a book that really deserves to be read more than once, and at leisure, and I definitely will be going back to it someday. But for this first reading, I’m so glad that I had a chance to share the experience with bookish friends. Thanks so much to Jaclyn and A.M.B. for reading along with me.

Their thoughts on Volume III:

Covered in Flour

The Misfortune of Knowing


4 thoughts on “Villette Readalong: Wrap-Up

  1. Trish

    Sometimes I think that many books should be read once to get a feel and a second time to get the meat (or in some cases multiple multiple times!). I’ve still only read Jane Eyre but even that one I’d like to re-read. You’ve also reminded me that I’ve had The French Lieutenant’s Woman on my shelf for WAY too long!

  2. kristi

    Some readers say the ending is pretty clear, but I agree with you, I thought it was ambiguous. I loved this book. Much more than Jane Eyre. I need to read it again because there is so much going on that I feel like I missed so much the first time around. Also, I don’t speak french and I just kind of glossed over those lines. I really should try to find a version that translates that text.

  3. Geoff W

    I had so many issues with Lucy Snowe. I couldn’t decide if I should or shouldn’t like her and she perturbed me more than she wooed me. I don’t remember the ending so much as it wasn’t as powerful as her sister’s endings or even Jane Eyre.

  4. Pingback: #Villettealong: Reading Companions | Covered In Flour

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