Villette (with an Introduction by Mary Augusta Ward)

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A reworking of “The Professor”, the author’s first novel, “Villette” is Charlotte Bronte’s fourth and last novel which is loosely based upon her own experiences at a boarding school in Brussels. The work follows the life of Lucy Snowe, a quiet yet self-reliant young girl without any family, from her life in the English countryside where she lives with her Godmother, to London, and finally to the French town of Villette, where she gains employment as a nanny at a boarding school. While there she is reunited with old acquaintances and meets the quick-tempered professor M. Paul Emanuel. The two eventually fall in love but seem destined to be kept apart by persons conspiring against them. “Villette” has gained a reputation as a gothic novel owing to several strange encounters Lucy has with a nun which may be the ghost of a woman who was put to death on the school’s grounds for breaking her vow of chastity. These strange visions give an appropriate atmosphere to a novel whose theme is one of loneliness and isolation. While not as popular as “Jane Eyre”, Bronte’s “Villette” is a work which arguably exceeds in literary standing her more famous work. This edition includes an introduction by Mary Augusta Ward and a biographical afterword.

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