Archive for the ‘Villette’ Category


Lucy Snowe and Pirates

September 11, 2011

Well twinner, I’ve finished. I actually finished Thursday night, but other things kept me from getting around to actually posting until just now, nearly two days later. Those purposefully vague “other things” included, but were not limited to live blogging my first viewing of Marley & Me.

I had some issues with the last quarter of the book—that long debate between Catholicism and Protestantism, that confusing midnight fete (the proper time for fete is two in the afternoon!), the decision on Bronte’s part to stop caring about the characters of John Bretton and little Polly—but overall I kind of liked the book. I don’t think another draft would have hurt it (never before have I felt so much like I was reading a book as it came to the mind of the author), but I found the book entertaining (if not completely compelling).

This book you’ve picked next is definitely a horse of a different color. Pirates and treasures and islands…sounds like it should be a thrill a minute. I kind of think I’ve read it before, but since I can’t remember for certain I don’t think the second reading will hurt me.

I shall look forward to swashbuckling literary conversation.


I had to get that out of my system…I’m ready to progress now.



Imprecise Terminology

September 10, 2011

When I am wrong, I am wrong. I freely admit and seek to correct my errors.

You rightly called me out when I referred to Lucy’s new found interest in M. Paul as a “plot twist.” You’re right, “twist” implies a certain level of subtlety, unexpectedness, or surprise. And while, I admit it did come as something of a surprise to me this could have more to do with my aforementioned half-assed reading of this book than any narrative trickery.

So, on second thought I should have referred to this narrative change of heart as a plot lurch. A sudden, violent shift in direction of the story.

Not be confused with a dramatic Lurch.

Anyway, rumor has it you’ve actually managed to find your way to the end of Charlotte Bronte’s epic tome. That being the case, I guess it is up to me to pick the next book. I was giving some thought to what might be a bit of a change of pace I feel like we’ve already done stream of conciousness (Swann’s Way), we’ve done dystopian (Brave New World, and we’ve even done turtle-like alien life forms (Lathe of Heaven.

But you know what we haven’t done?


This is a wrong that must be righted. So pull out your treasure chest, tricorn hats, and shoulder-jockeying parrots and find yourself a copy of Treasure Island, and I will see you the Jolly Roger. (Matey.)



The Stockholm Syndrome of Lucy Snowe

September 5, 2011

Ironic/Sarcastic positivity is not, in fact, positivity. I give that last post a D-. (Since I assigned you the task, I also get to assign you a grade–that was fun!). I should have realized that the task I set before you was as hopeless as asking Lucy Snowe to extemporaneously compose a French essay in front of the entire student body and their parents.

But I think if you had tried a little harder you should have been able to identify some truly admirable aspects of this reading experience. There are some things to like in this book, things like Charlotte Bronte’s out-of-nowhere bats*!% wacky extended similies:

As monkeys are said to have the power of speech if they would but use it, and are reported to conceal this faculty in fear of its being turned to their detriment, so to me was ascribed a fund of knowledge which I was supposed criminally and craftily to conceal.

I don’t know what to do with that sentence. Was it a commonly held belief in Victorian England that monkeys could actually talk and were just willfully silent? That simile just raises too many questions.

What I don’t like about this reading experience is the “plot twist” which you foreshadowed, but say that I still haven’t reached. (Henceforward the aforementioned “twist” is only to be referred to in ironic quotation marks). While I think I have reached (and probably passed) it. I am beginning to think that you misunderstand the term’s basic concept.

It is, to clarify, when the book takes a turn that is completely unexpected. Are we starting with the same working definition?

If yes, then my last guess to what you were referring to, is Lucy’s new-found love for M. Paul. Granted it’s a little odd…because her earlier interactions with him include him locking her in an attic and forcing her to perform in his (sick) pantomime, and because she knows that he periodically rifles through her personal things. So whatever psycho-sexual peccadillo that Lucy is exploring is, I will grant you, different. Maybe even a little bit weird (I don’t judge). But “twisty”? The jury’s still out.

Anyhow…I didn’t get as much reading done over the weekend as I had hoped, but I am giving Villette my full attention until it gets finished. So I should (hopefully) be done early this week (but by the end of the week for sure). Feel free to either justify your “plot twist” claim or reveal our next read anytime soon.

Back to the wonderful world of Victorian coincidences!


2 Things

August 24, 2011

1.) You aren’t to the narrative shift* I was describing. (Keep reading, Jonny, I know you can make it!)**

*Plot twist really doesn’t do it justice.
**I know you hate me just a little bit right now.

2.) It must be nice to be reading a version of this book that translates the French. (P.S. Poupee = doll-like? No wonder I get such strange looks from my French speaking friends–Egg on my face.)

That’s all.



Untwistiest of Twists

August 24, 2011

Color me underwhelmed.

In our face-to-face conversation you hinted that the plot “twist” was a “game changer”.  I believe you said something along the lines of “And then the story takes an enexpected turn that completely (you really stressed this, in my recollection) makes the last third of the novel almost a completely (you’re getting a thesaurus for Christmas!) different book from the first two-thirds.  Stop hogging the salsa!” (I think we were eating chips and salsa at the time).

So with much anticipation I have been veritably flying through the chapters trying to catch up with you (I’m still a little behind, but I am caught up to where you were about two weeks ago).  I kept flipping the pages thinking “What can this twist be?  Will Lucy Snowe have to solve a mystery? (with cats!!!)  Does Lucy Snowe become a jewel thief to finance a secret abortion?”

Well I get to where you were and all I find is…the return of Polly Home (which I forsaw!).


I’d like you to explain in your own words why you found this turn so dramatic?  I figured after Dr. John turned out (inexplicably) to be Graham Bretton that Polly was bound to rear her frighteningly precocious head once more. (Although I kept expecting Ginevra Fanshawe to turn into her). So did I miss something else (a different major plot twist) or can you explain what you were getting at?

In other (unrelated) news I did come across the most hilarious French mistranslation to date…let’s just say that “des couleurs de poupee” is not a cognate.  It translates into a most un-hilarious “doll-like colours”.

So I look forward to your explanation.

Until then,

I remain,

Your Twin,



Eddie Felson

August 15, 2011

Here I am reading away, but still pacing myself–trying not to get to far ahead of you, as I use the blog to gauge your progress in Villette.  I’ve been guessing that you were still somewhere around page 150.

Then just as I’m patting myself on the back, simultaneously reading about Lucy’s Pretty Woman-goes-to-the opera experience at the theatre (which quickly devolves into a horrific scene reminiscent of Carrie‘s denouement)–I find out from an actual person-to-person conversation with you that you are actually quite far ahead of me!  And privy to unforeseen plot developments that I know nothing about!  I call dirty pool twin brother…I’ve been hustled.

And yet with all of this knowledge we still hear nothing from you…Have you no thoughts about this novel?  Do you hate the story so much?

Oh well.

Back to that horrific scene where Topsy-Turvy meets The Towering Inferno…is the young girl rescued by Dr. Bretton and Lucy yet another of their childhood housemates?  Another “Bretton House Kid” who has  inexplicably (some might say “unbelievably”) ALSO found herself residing in Villette?  Is it, indeed, Polly Homes?  I noted that upon her arrival back at her hotel she calls out for Harriet…which was also the name of the young woman who dropped Polly off at the Bretton’s in the early chapters of this book.  (Note my sleuthing…I’m a bit of a Sherlock Holmes in regards to the Homes of Villette!)

Is the unexpected plot twist that you alluded to in our real person conversation an unforeseen love triangle?  A Victorian Something Borrowed?

I’ll pull the lead out now that I know that you’re speed racing to the end of this book…I won’t be looking at the blog until I get to Chapter 29 (where I believe you are now) so I can make sure not to have any plot points spoiled…but that’s a mere few chapters away!  So you will be hearing from me soon.



Page 222

August 2, 2011

Yes, I am still pretty sure that we are reading the same book…a slightly boring story of a girl with frighteningly (perhaps pathologically) low self-esteem who goes off to a boarding school to teach in France.  Sound familiar?  I’ve grown to quite enjoy its clunky plot-twists and glacier-paced narration.  Even it’s unfulfilled promise of a ghost nun charms me.

Wait did I just say unfulfilled promise?  Implying a narrative bait-and-switch?  Well let me correct myself…unfulfilled promise of a ghost nun UNTIL PAGE 222!  Page 222 (at least its 222 in my Everyman’s Library paperback) is rife with action.

It is on this page that the ghost nun finally shows her pallid face (actually she wears a sheet over her face…like Casper?).  There are other happenings in this chapter (“The Letter”) that makes me think that the plot has finally turned a corner.

First, of course, the ghost nun…what the hell was up with that.

But we also get this mysterious revelation from Lucy (also on page 222)

Dr. John, you pained me afterwards: forgiven be every ill–freely forgiven–for the sake of that one dear remembered good!

So before the love story even really starts Lucy let’s us, the reader, know that it is all going to end horribly.   I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to read on.

In your last post you asked whether Lucy really loved Dr. John or whether their love was instead a precursor to the awkward beach gyrations/uninspired caterwauling on display in From Justin to Kelly.  Well (once again!) on page 222 you find incontrovertible proof of Lucy’s feelings vis-a-vis Dr. Bretton in her recounting of her feelings as she read his letter to her:

This present moment had no pain, no blot, no want; full, pure, perfect, it deeply blessed me. A passing seraph seemed to have rested beside me. leaned towards my heart, and reposed on its throb a softening, cooling, healing, hallowing wing. (emphasis mine)

Pretty opaque.  Not exactly “From Me To You”

Other things that happen off of page 222, but still in chapter 22 that might be interesting to discuss:

  • Madame Beck’s mother is visiting because she’s ill…she’s so ill that she has left her home, so as not to suffer this grave illness alone.  And yet Lucy still forces her to help her investigate the ghost nun sighting.  She’s not Venkman, Lucy, she’s an invalid.
  • Dr. John stole the letter that he himself sent to Lucy.  Curious.
  • They were going to call the police after this…because Lucy saw a ghost and lost a letter (which was returned)…do not the gendarmerie have more important tasks to see to?   Mon Dieu!

So plenty to discuss!  See you next post.