As mentioned with Jane Eyre, the Bronte sisters are definitely on the dark and gothic side. Villette is no different. It follows Lucy, a plain governess just like Jane Eyre (and I believe I’ve read that these characters were somewhat autobiographical, for Charlotte at least.) Lucy is in some ways like Jane: she’s also very intelligent and sympathetic, but she’s far more tormented emotionally. She’s also the sad victim of unrequited love… and it’s very clear from the beginning that Dr. John will never return her affections. There’s much more going on in the story than just Lucy’s affections, though, and it doesn’t end wholly sad–Lucy does find her match, though compared to the Adonis that is Dr. John, it’s hard to feel satisfied with a consolation prize. Read this one only if you’re in the mood for bittersweet!
My rating: **** 1/2