Villette (1853) is a novel by English writer Charlotte Brontë. It was the third and final novel she published in her lifetime, followed only by The Professor, her posthumously released first novel which was largely reconceived and rewritten as Villette. Inspired by Brontë’s experience traveling and teaching English in Brussels, where she went at the age of 26 with her sister Emily before returning alone the following year, Villette is the story of an Englishwoman abroad and contains the themes of loneliness, secrecy, romance, and tragedy which circulate throughout much of her work.
Following a family tragedy, Lucy Snowe becomes employed as a caregiver by an elderly woman named Miss Marchmont, who treats her kindly and shares stories of life and lost love. When Miss Marchmont dies, Lucy—now without family, home, or employment—decides to leave England for Labassecour, a fictional country based on Brontë’s experience of Belgium. She is hired to teach English at a boarding school in the city of Villette, where she meets a strangely familiar English doctor and falls in love with M. Paul Emanuel, a local professor. Although he is a widower, M. Paul faces pressure from family members and religious authorities alike, and is forced to choose between a life of social acceptance and a life with the woman he loves. Amidst these circumstances, and haunted by repeated encounters with a nun rumored to be a ghost, Lucy Snowe must rely on her wits and courage as she suffers through not only intense loneliness, but a lack of control over the events which shape her life.
Charlotte Brontë’s Villette is a compelling gothic novel which explores the psychological effects of a lack of agency on its protagonist while illuminating the horrors which loom over everyday life.
With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Charlotte Brontë’s Villette is a classic of English literature reimagined for modern readers.
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