Villette by Charlotte Bronte (Chapters 6-11)



 ‘Go to Villette,’ said an inward Voice; prompted doubtless by the recollection of this slight sentence uttered carelessly and at random by Miss Fanshawe, as she bid me good-bye:

‘I wish you would come to Madame Beck’s; she has some marmots whom you might look after: she wants an English gouvernante, or was wanting one two months ago.’….

Before you pronounce on the rashness of the proceeding, reader, look-back to the point whence I started; consider the desert I had left, note how little I perilled: mine was the game where the player cannot lose and may win.

How silly am I?! I had thought that Villette was a person, the woman on the front cover perhaps? Now I know that Villette is a fictional place near France, to which Lucy Snowe has decided to venture after London. A brave woman, with ‘no social significance and little burdened by cash’, the story becomes curiouser and curiouser.

Following the advice of Miss Fanshawe, Lucy arrives in Villette. She inquires of a stranger where she might find an inn suitable for spending the night, but upon being followed by two suspicious men, ends up at Madame Beck’s as Ginevre Fanshawe originally suggested. There, she is first hired as a nurse-maid for the children, then as an English teacher for the older girls. (Love how she overcame their taunting by first tearing the sheet of one’s exercise book in half before the entire class, then putting another girl in the closet and pocketing the key!)

When the child Fifine breaks her arm, a doctor is summoned. He turns out to be none other than the very man who suggested the inn upon her arrival at Villette. I’m feeling a little love in the air now, at least on the part of our Lucy Snowe, not to mention other women who seem to swoon over Dr. John.

Find more thoughts from those who are reading along at Unputdownables.

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13 thoughts on “Villette by Charlotte Bronte (Chapters 6-11)”

  1. A question to think about – I have my answer, but it's just a guess – is whether the name Villette, and the other made-up names are the actual names of these places in Lucy's fictional world, or are they simply Lucy's jokey, teasing names.I think it's one of her many jokes. She could be straight with us right away, but that's not Lucy.

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  2. Indeed, Lucy is very tricky. I have by now finished the book, although I'll only post on the chapters as the read along 'requires'. But, I have found all the unveiling of the characters and plot to be deliberately obscure. She never tells us all at once, only allowing things to be slowly revealed. In her time.It's interesting to me that while reading my Nook I thought Villette was actually in France, not a contrived town. I knew Labrassecour to be made up, but when I googled Villette, and found two villages in France, I thought it was her destination.

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  3. "In her time" – it's very much a novel about control, isn't it? Lucy may not control much, but she's in charge of telling her own story.I had assumed that Lucy was in Brussels, for whatever reason, but the scene where she sees the king, and the museum scene (the Rubens paintings) clinch it. "Villette" is then her joke on the pretensions of Belgium's capital. You call this a city? This "little town"?How funny that you have another "Lucy" book going.

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  4. I haven't read this (but the readalong is making me reconsider that!) but don't feel alone…I had always assumed that Villette was a character too! Am also intrigued by your current read; I just read a biographical account of FDR and Lucy. WIll look for it (or maybe wait for your say-so).

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  5. Bellezza, I thought that Villette was a person, too! LOL! Imagine my surprise to find out its a city in France. Anyhow, so far, this book has me wanting more. Can't wait to see what happens to next to Lucy Snowe – she's becoming quite a character.

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  6. Amateur Reader, the way you analyze when you read amazes me. You catch every nuance, every detail, whereas I'm going more for the Gestalt in comparison. While getting the overall picture, I miss so much of what you have pointed out here. So, thanks for clarifying with your insight.Col, you have time to join in the read-along! It's not hard, nor are the chapters terribly lengthy. If you have time. Because all teachers have loads of extra time hanging on their hands.Audrey, isn't it ironic that I'm reading another book called Lucy now? It's for one of my book clubs; it's historical fiction on FDR and Eleanor and his illicit relationship with Lucy Mercer. I personally like it a lot, not all the way finished, but the women around the table thought it almost silly. They were making fun of the description, and thought the author took liberties in her portraits, but I have yet to weigh in. When I finish the book. Which I like so far. Glad you're with me in thinking Villette was a place. ;)Nadia, phew! I was feeling so alone in my assumption. 🙂

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  7. Lucy was bad ass in that classroom scene. I was kind of proud of her for standing up to those girls. She's becoming such an interesting character and her mix of emotions is contradictory but so real and relatable. I'm all kinds of amused by spy-in-training Madame Beck. I couldn't believe she went through Lucy's stuff while she was "asleep" and knows everything that goes on in the house, yet is so cold to her kids.

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  8. Erin, she was, wasn't she? I was very proud of her for besting those girls, even though I must admit I thought it would be the other way round for a while there. Her emotions are very relatable to me, especially as she seems to keep them rather private instead of telling everyone her every woe. Maybe she's silent to a fault? As to Madame Beck, hmm. Maybe she just needs to make sure her employees are behaving. Or, maybe she just needs to be large and in charge no matter what.

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