Amity & Sorrow Book Review

When I came across the book cover for Amity & Sorrow (written by Peggy Riley), I wasn’t really intrigued, but I also wasn’t really apathetic about it either (if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a pretty visual person). The book cover stated the story to be about this mother and her daughters escaping a cult run by their husband/ father and the cover depicted two girls tied together by a cloth. I’m not super into cult-ish things but I decided to give this book a shot anyway. So here’s the review (I read this book a while ago so please forgive the short and shallow review).

The story-line itself is okay. I personally thought the author did a pretty good job describing the crazy fucked-up nature of the cult and how it morphed from being something semi-okay to something horribly evil. As such, I actually found myself really liking the persistent hold the cult leader had over the women in the story, even after they left. Like for example, the mother character, named Amaranth, had an extremely difficult time going into another man’s house to even look for food for her starving daughters, as she kept on hearing her husband’s voice condemning her. To be clear, it wasn’t the funnest thing to read and actually got kinda annoying after a while, but I still appreciate it (in hindsight LOL) because I think that’s how it is in reality. It’s always hard to break away from what you’ve grown used to believing in. And actually, I think the best part about the book is how it attempts to show how the three different women deal with leaving the cult. The mother, Amaranth, deals with a lot of guilt, anger and fear as she struggles to come to terms with her lifestyle within and outside the cult. The older sister, Sorrow, absolutely refuses to leave behind her father’s cult teachings and clings to the cult rules, often in violent ways. And finally, the younger sister, Amity, comes out of her shell and like a newborn, learns all about the world she was missing outside.

That said, despite some of my praises, the book was also pretty unsatisfying in a more than a few ways. Firstly, I didn’t really like the characters that much. Amaranth is an extremely confusing character. She initially begins the story as this very concerned mother and then morphs into a young girl (?) as she spends more time with the farmer, Bradley, (he houses the girls after their escape, after a chance meeting). It comes to the point where I felt like Amaranth was just happy to play house with Bradley rather than help the girls assimilate into their new society, i.e. she didn’t even care that the girls weren’t educated (they literally couldn’t read or understand simple concepts like maps). I mean, she even remarks upon this, when hanging with Bradley, that she knows about the real world while her daughter’s don’t, and yet she still does nothing about it. I just, I don’t know, I guess I kind of found her behaviour neglectful? And Sorrow’s character was just really not fleshed out. She was straight up psychotic. Like insanely psychotic but no character really remarks upon this and it’s not even really discussed. I would’ve really liked some more insight into her thoughts, rather than just having her actions/ ideas be translated by her sister. And finally, Amity. I wasn’t sure what to feel for her. Her child-like curiosity eventually got on my nerves (that’s just me though, I’m guessing other’s wouldn’t be so annoyed). And I really, really, really, REALLY disliked her blind love for her sister Sorrow. I just, I couldn’t understand it? What was it that bound her to her sister like that? Like for example, Sorrow literally slices Amity’s palms open, locks her in a dark room, and burns her damn hands and YET Amity still sees her favourably (minus a few jealous feelings, that too over a boy of all things omg). It doesn’t really make sense to me.

And the writing/ story itself was okay as well, nothing spectacular in my opinion. The writing was a little disjointed a times and it wasn’t always easy to follow. The book also deals with a few really dark themes though, so I’d definitely warn readers to be cautious if they don’t like reading about stuff like that (I’m deliberately not listing the exact dark themes because I feel they’d give away quite a bit of the story). So yeah, I guess I’m just kinda apathetic and semi-bitter after reading this. I had expected more.

My rating: read it if you want to get annoyed or about read dark themes, but you can miss this otherwise (there are much better books about cults out there than this one).

 

Peril at End House Book Review

After finishing Endless Night and really liking it, I was pretty excited to begin reading Peril at End House. Buuut unfortunately, it didn’t really catch my interest right away so I literally put off reading it for 2-3 weeks. On the bright side, I did get around to eventually reading and finishing it and so I’m here to review it.

Peril at End House is a Hercule Poirot mystery. For those unfamiliar with that name or Agatha Christie, he’s basically a fictitious famous mystery detective she created. Kinda like Sherlock Holmes, Poirot has the uncanny ability to make astute observations about the most seemingly normal phenomena. For example, within this book [SPOILER ALERT], a character complains about a bee near her head, in her bonnet, and only Poirot figures out that the bee wasn’t really a bee but a bullet. Eh, I’m not explaining it as eloquently as he did in the book, but that’s an example of his powers of observation and deduction. Because Poirot is so smart and famous, he’s also kind off an asshole to his friend/ fellow detective Hastings. Hastings is an English police officer (or so I assumed) who goes around with Poirot (who is a Belgian detective) to solve mysteries. While Poirot can appear nice to others, in my opinion, he treated Hastings pretty badly. Think like snide comments on Hasting’s capabilities. Or maybe I’m just a really sensitive person, but I wasn’t a big fan of his treatment. And Poirot is also really boastful and kinda arrogant (although in this book, I do find him to be a bit humanized as he suffers a sort-of existential crisis/ failure). If you can’t tell, I’m not the biggest fan of Poirot, despite his amazing ability as a detective.  But just to be clear, this doesn’t mean that Poirot is a horrible person or character to read about. On the contrary, he can be very nice and charming to others. I think it all really depends on personal taste and perceptions. My friend, who initially recommended Agatha Christie’s novel’s to me, is actually quite fond of Poirot and finds him to be a humorous and entertaining fellow. This is just strictly my opinion on Poirot and how I perceived him (i.e. kinda annoyed by him). Hence I’m pretty sure that some of my dislike of this book stems from my dislike of Poirot.

That said, the plot is reasonably interesting. In the story, Hercule Poirot has come to have a relaxing vacation with Hastings by his side, but both end getting caught up with a beautiful heiress and the idea that someone is trying to murder her. Sort of a typical murder mystery style I think, as you have a number of people involved (we’re introduced to various friends, servants, helpers of the heiress) and thus a number of people that can be the murderer. And like all Agatha Christie stories, the ending is a complete surprise that you don’t see coming. Like seriously, you think the book has ended and then BAM turns out that you were wrong and that the ending is something completely different.  I think the ending is actually the best part about the entire story.  I mean, the writing is nice as always and the characters are fine as well, but nothing holds a candle to the ending. All in all, a pretty average book. Not one that I was particularly happy to read.

My rating: read it if you want to experience the Agatha Christie style (surprise ending) but you can miss it otherwise.

 

Endless Night Book Review

So a while ago, my friend really got into Agatha Christie. Okay, maybe it was more than a while ago, but it was only a while ago that I actually decided to listen to her recommendations and check out a few of Agatha Christie’s books. Unfortunately, my library was out of a few of her more popular books like Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Were None so I decided to get Endless Night instead. The cover itself was actually pretty nice, all black with a pale moon showing, and I had recognized the William Blake poem from which the book derived its title. Intrigued, I picked it up and began my Agatha Christie journey.

Firstly, I think it’s worth mentioning that I’m not the biggest fan of mystery books or thrillers. I often have a really hard time reading mystery/ thriller books chronologically because my curiosity usually overtakes my rational side and causes me to either skip to the end of the book to figure out the mystery or google the book and find out the end. Hence I was actually pretty hesitant to even start the book. But DAMN am I glad I did. In fact, I’d actually rank Endless Night pretty highly, up with a few of my other favourites. That said, let’s get into the semi-spoilery review (I’ll try to refrain from spoiling the book too much because most of the fun from Agatha Christie’s books come from their surprise endings).

So the book begins with us being introduced to the narrator Michael Rogers who lives a pretty chill lifestyle. He’s does odd jobs and can never really seem to hold down one job for a long time. It’s pretty much explicitly implied that the only reason Michael even does the jobs is because he needs the money (he’s a pretty poor fellow) and that his real dream is to own a wonderful house, built by his famous architect friend, Santonix, in a place called Gipsy’s Acre, and just live there forever not doing anything. Gipsy’s Acre is also coincidentally a supposedly cursed and haunted place, albeit overlooking a wonderful view. Luckily for him, he ends up meeting and falling in love with a wealthy, young American heiress (forgot to mention that Michael was English) Ellie and after a whirlwind courtship, they marry, buy Gipsy’s Acre, have Santonix build them a wonderful house, and live there happily. Of course, it wouldn’t be an Agatha Christie novel if everything went as planned and so a lot of shit happens afterwards. But seeing as I don’t want to spoil readers or ruin their fun of reading, I shall refrain from commenting more on the explicit plot.

In terms of writing, I actually found this novel to be written in a very easy-to-read manner. Things were quite clear and understandable and I really enjoyed reading it. While I do enjoy reading descriptive, flowerly language, it can sometimes get a bit grating to read after a while so I was really pleased with how simple Ms. Christie’s writing and language was. And her narrator, Michael was also a pretty likeable person, for the most part. He’s easy to understand and it’s amusing to read his thoughts. Unlike narrators who dgaf about you (LOOKING AT YOU LUCY SNOWE) or narrators who just dgaf in general (hello boring Rose), Michael seemed quite pleasant and welcoming. But to be honest, my favourite part of the entire book was the mystery/ ending. It was just such a WTF moment for me. I was completely shocked after having read the ending and had not anticipated it AT ALL. Although my reaction to finishing this book was not quite on the level I had when I finished Villette, I was still pretty emotional and went around recommending this book to my friends and family members.

Having said that, I think it’s also worth mentioning that there’s definitely some criticism around this book as well, especially in regards to the plot-line. Apparently Agatha Christie reused some characters and plot-lines in this story? So readers who’ve read her previous stories (Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Death on the Nile) perhaps wouldn’t be as surprised with the story/ surprise ending in this book as I was (I haven’t read her previous works at all). And honestly, it was the story/ surprise ending that really elevated the book for me and caused it to become one of my favourites. So I guess read with caution?

My rating: read it and buy it and be prepared to be taken off guard with the ending (aka get used to the Agatha Christie style).

 

 

Heir to a Glimmering World (The Bear Boy) Book Review

So I recently just finished reading Heir to a Glimmering World or The Bear Boy, as its known in the UK. I originally picked it up because the inside flap of the book and the back cover were FULL of praises for the author, Cynthia Ozick. I know that it’s a pretty typical promotional strategy for books, but for some reason, the reviews for her were pretty stand-out and I felt compelled to check out her book. After finishing her book and googling her online, she actually is a pretty celebrated American author. So I guess it was good that I picked up a book of hers. Anyways, now to the spoiler-filled review.

Heir to a Glimmering World actually starts out okay. The story begins somewhat in the middle and then goes back to the beginning of the narrator’s (Rose) life. She grew up with a pretty neglectful and foolish father and as a result, grew into a pretty lonely and dissatisfied person. She ends up moving in with an older distant cousin, Betram, when her father decides to leave her and live in the school he worked at. Betram is not really related to Rose, but his motherly actions and nice behaviour (he even pays for her schooling) causes at least some happiness for Rose which eventually blooms into a crush (despite the almost 20 yrs age gap). But her happiness with Betram is short-lived as he falls in love with a crazy, opportunistic communist tomboy, Ninel (Lenin spelled backwards as she puts it), who rants about the evils of capitalism and materialism all day, every day. Ninel dislikes Rose and has Betram kick her out. So Rose finds employment with this immigrant German family.

I guess this is where the story begins. The family is made up of an authoritative older sister who basically takes care of the house, three rambunctious younger brothers, a toddler sister, the professor father, and the former physicist mother. As the story takes place during the early 30’s, the German family, who were apparently really rich in Germany, had to flee due to Hitler’s rise, were ‘rescued’ by some Quakers (?) and arrived in America. The family is too poor to even really afford Rose, let alone buy nice food, but due to their benefactor, they’re able to live ok. The benefactor, James, we find out, is a young, rich, bohemian boy who goes around trying to run from his past and becomes drawn to the German Mitwisser family. Much like the real life Christopher Robin from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, James was the inspiration for his father’s famous and wildly successful ‘Bear Boy’ stories. Embittered with having his childhood stolen and his somewhat neglectful parents, James grew up to become a wanderer, using his inherited fortune to live a life free from responsibility or pressure. He backpacks and travels the world, trying to find some anchor or happiness and discovers the Mitwisser’s in a hotel. He originally becomes a volunteer tutor for the three Mitwisser boys before becoming friends with the family, moving in with them from time to time (James has the tendency to leave often, but he does try to send cash to the family from time to time), and then becoming their benefactor. The entire Mitwisser family seems to love James (and he really likes them too — they intrigue him and he genuinely enjoys being with them because he can control them with his riches) except for the mother, Mrs. Mitwisser. Steadily loosing her mind in America and used to the riches of her German life, Mrs. Mitwisser has an extremely difficult time with James money’s, dislikes him intensely, and hence resolves to disrupt his control (it’s kinda interesting because the book implies that James sees the family as a sort of play-thing and this is further supported by the description of their house as ‘doll-like’ but you have to read between the lines to get to this part because the book initially makes it seem like Mrs. Mitwisser is the crazy one).

Rose enters this family and attempts to navigate it with her disinterested personality. Eventually, shit happens, like James running away with the oldest daughter (who is still a minor btw with an age gap between them), the professor losing himself over his grief on his failed current life position (being a high ranking professor in Germany vs. being a refugee immigrant with no job prospects or respect in America) and his daughter’s disappearance, and Mrs. Mitwisser getting better as her husband worsens. Eventually Bertram appears, Rose’s crush on him disappears, he becomes opportunistic, and the daughter returns home.

Honestly speaking, I didn’t really like the book that much. It just felt so…unresolved?  So superficial almost? I mean, nothing really happens and Rose really isn’t an extremely engaging character. She literally doesn’t care much for the family. This is especially contrasted when Bertram comes along to live with the Mitwisser’s. Betram cooks, cleans, does the laundry, disciplines the children, and talks to Mrs. Mitwisser, compared to Rose just listening to Mrs. Mitwisser and occasionally helping out Mr. Mitwisser by being his typist. The characters in the book remark upon this too. The only time Rose seems to really shine, is in the beginning when she picks herself up and learns to fend for herself in order to prove a point to her neglectful father and when she attempts to keep up the hopes and comfort Mr. Mitwisser over his grief. Other times, she literally just exists and does nothing. I honestly couldn’t even really discern what she felt for the family. She just tolerated them I guess?

And in terms of writing, the book was mostly from Rose’s POV. But there were a few chapters, in the middle of the book of all places, that were from James POV. But there wasn’t really a clear marker of distinction and so the reader literally had to read about halfway and realize that there was a different POV/ different story being told. I mean, it wasn’t that bad, but it could’ve been better. Similarly, there was a lot, and I mean A LOT of philosophical, religious discussions. Mr. Mitwisser was a professor of Karaite Judaism and hence interacted with a lot of religions (Hinduism was discussed a lot) and the end result is a mixing of the religions and a lot of philosophical talk. If you’re into that kind of stuff, then I guess it would probably appeal to you. But, I’m really not into that stuff and it didn’t appeal to me so I resolved to just skim/ skip those parts. And the story itself isn’t really riveting or anything. At least not to me.

I will say however, that the writing is pretty good. Ms. Ozick has a flair for writing really nice descriptive sentences that stay with you, at least they did for me. And a few scenes really stick out as well. But honestly, that probably the best thing about the book, the writing. Otherwise, the characters are kinda stale and some of them aren’t even that fleshed out (we literally learn nothing about the brothers), the plot doesn’t really do much and there isn’t too much of an emotional connect with the characters or situation. Idk, maybe I ended up missing the whole point of the novel though my lack of philosophical understanding, but I didn’t find the novel as enjoyable as I hoped I did.

My rating: Read it if you like small character studies and philosophical/ big ideas, but you probably wouldn’t miss anything by skipping it either.

Hi + Villette Book Review

I’ve never really been one for making introductory posts about myself, so without further ado, let’s just jump into talking/ reviewing.

Charlotte Bronte has been one of my favourite writers for a long time now. I originally began with her famous classic Jane Eyre, but my love affair with her didn’t really begin until I read Villette a while later. Villette tore my heart open and caused a jumble of emotions to well up in me. Not sure if you’ve ever really seen the movie Silver Linings Playbook, but there’s a scene in the movie where Bradley Cooper’s character finishes reading Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and immediately throws the book out of a window and begins ranting about the book to his parents (here’s a gif). That was basically my exact reaction. Aside from throwing the book through a window (threw Villette on my bed instead), I had the same reactions: anger, frustration, and indignation culminating into me ranting to my mom and sister. I was absolutely furious with the book and the review below is a testament to that.

I originally wrote this review on another site back in 2013 because I had so many feelings after finishing the book. If it’s not clear, Villette is actually one of my favourite books today and hence I wanted to reproduce my review here and share one of my favourite with you all. I apologize in advance for the lack of grammar, bad language, and emotion-filled content (it’s typically not my style but in my defense, I was an emotional mess). So behold, here is the review in all its angry caps-lock and spoiler alert glory:

Villette Review (reproduced with minor edits)

OKAY, SO I JUST READ VILLETTE BY CHARLOTTE BRONTE AND I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS I NEED TO WRITE DOWN. AND I APOLOGIZE FOR THE CAPS IN ADVANCE BECAUSE MY FEELINGS ARE ONLY ACCURATELY EXPRESSED THROUGH THE SHOUTING.

OKAY. SO SHE STARTS OF THE STORY WITH THIS GIRL NAMED LUCY SNOWE, WHO IS ALSO NARRATING THE STORY. WE DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT LUCY’S PAST. IT STARTS OFF WITH HER TALKING ABOUT LIVING WITH HER GODMOTHER, LOUSIA BRETTON AND HER SON GRAHAM BRETTON. AND THEN THIS YOUNG GIRL NAMED POLLY, WHO HAS A RICH FATHER/ TREATS HER FATHER LIKE A HUSBAND BECAUSE HER MOM DIED AND SHE DOESN’T WANT HER FATHER TO FEEL ALONE, MOVES IN WITH THE BRETTON’S AND LUCY WHILE HER DAD TRAVELS. LUCY THEN DESCRIBES HOW POLLY WAS VERY CLOSE TO GRAHAM BUT ALSO A VERY SERIOUS CHILD WHO NEVER FORGOT STUFF/ ACTED OLDER THAN SHE WAS. THROUGHOUT THIS ENTIRE FUCKING TIME, WE NEVER KNEW HOW OLD LUCY WAS. ALL WE KNEW WAS THE DYNAMICS IN THE BRETTON HOUSEHOLD WITH LUCY AND POLLY ALSO LIVING THERE.

And then Lucy leaves, after Polly leaves, to go work for some old lady and her maid. She starts to enjoy this. BUT THROUGH OUT THIS FUCKING PERIOD, WE STILL DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HER PAST. And then soon enough, the old lady dies and Lucy is left without a place to stay (Because it turns out the Bretton’s left for somewhere too). So she decides to push her luck and goes to France on this boat. She meets this girl, Ginevra, who is rich and studying in a boarding school in France and who is also a pretty shallow, flirty girl. And then the boat stops in France. And turns out Lucy’s trunk gets left behind as she travels even further into France. And she finally finds employment at the boarding school Ginevra goes to.

At the boarding school, all sorts of shit happens. She starts working as an english teacher, despite having no real credentials. And she meets this handsome doctor, Doctor John, who she stares at a lot. And it turns out that the owner of the boarding school, a middle aged widow named Madame Beck becomes attracted to the doctor. (AND THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE STORY, SHE APPEARS AS AN ALRIGHT CHARACTER UP UNTIL THE END WHERE YOU GET MINDFUCKED). And so the doctor basically visits the boarding school everyday. But then it turns out that the doctor is attracted to Ginevra because he thinks she’s a pure girl. But Lucy knows the truth that Ginevra is anything but pure because she lies, takes expensive gifts from the doctor even though she’s leading him on/ thinks of him as a fool, flirts with everyone, etc. So this continues. And then summer comes and everyone, including the teachers and students, go off to their homes. But since Lucy doesn’t have a home, she stays at the school, basically alone except with the cook who is busy with her own stuff. And all alone, Lucy starts to become depressed, WHICH IS WRITTEN SO WELL THAT EVEN YOU FEEL ANGSTY AND SHE BECOMES MORE AND MORE SICKER. And then she decides to go to a Catholic church to confess/ find some company in the priest, even though she’s Protestant. And she confesses things to a priest, Pere Silas, who takes a great interest in her even though she isn’t a Catholic. And then on the way home Lucy faints because she’s been so sick.

And then she wakes up in a strange house that reminds her of the Bretton’s because it has the same furniture and everything. AND THEN PLOT TWIST, IT TURNS OUT ITS THE HOME OF DOCTOR JOHN AND HIS MOM, ALSO KNOWN AS THE BRETTON’S. TURNS OUT, THE REASON LUCY STARED AT DOCTOR JOHN FOR SO LONG WAS BECAUSE SHE HAD RECOGNIZED THAT HE WAS HER GOD-BROTHER GRAHAM BUT DECIDED THAT THE READER DIDN’T NEED TO KNOW BECAUSE SHE DGAF ABOUT THE READER. And then Lucy lives a somewhat happy life with both Bretton’s during the summer. She attends events with them and talks with them. And finally at an event, Doctor John realizes that Ginevra isn’t the pure girl he thought she was, even though Lucy tried to tell him in hints, and decides he doesn’t like Ginevra anymore. He then decides to hang out with Lucy more. And they go to museums together, visit his hospital together, etc. He says he’ll write her letters when she goes back to her job after summer is over. And then summer ends and she goes back to work. And then John/ Graham does send a letter and Lucy goes into this private room in the school to read it but while she reads, she sees the ghost of the nun (the nun story was that there was this nun who died because she broke her vow of never having sex). She runs and says she saw the nun, and then Mme Beck and others come to see, but turns out there is no ghost and Lucy realizes her letter is missing and it turns out Dr. John is there and he hid the letter. He is surprised to see that she cares about the letter, AGAIN DISPLAYING WHAT AN IGNORANT GUY HE IS. AND IT SUCKS EVEN MORE WHEN YOU REALIZE HOW MUCH IT MEANS TO LUCY AND NOTHING TO HIM AND THEN SHE REALIZES THIS TOO. GAH THE EMOTIONS. This goes on and finally John decides to invite Lucy to see a play. During the play, Lucy realizes that she and John aren’t alike at all and a fire breaks out. John and Lucy remain calm, and John carries out this girl who was harmed by the fire and commands Lucy to stay with him, AGAIN SHOWING THAT HE DOESN’T THINK OF HER AS A REAL PERSON, JUST SOME PERSON TO COMMAND. AND BREAKING THE WHOLE BRIEF FANTASY LUCY HAD OF BEING LOVED BY SOMEONE. And it turns out that the girl he carried was Polly from their childhood, except she’s actually a really pretty woman now, described as a fairy.

During this time, she becomes really close to Polly and the rest of the Bretton’s. And it turns out, Ginevra is a cousin of Polly’s and she unsettles Polly by talking of how John is her dog who’ll do anything for her (aka buying her gifts). And by this time, John is struck by how beautiful Polly is and basically loves her at first site and Polly likes him too. And Lucy realizes this and in the end, after their misunderstandings as solved, with help form Lucy, they end up married. AND ITS SO WEIRD BECAUSE WHEN POLLY’S DAD GET UPSET THAT POLLY WILL MARRY AND LEAVE HIM, POLLY TELLS HIM IT WON’T HAPPEN. BASICALLY SHE SAY’S SHE’LL REMAIN MARRIED TO HER DAD AND JUST ADD JOHN INTO THE FAMILY. LIKE WTF MAN.

During this time, the nun continues to haunt Lucy, but she doesn’t really tell anyone because she doesn’t want to be taken as a liar/ stupid (turns out the ghost isn’t a ghost, it was one of Ginevra’s suitors who used to sneak in and probably have sex with her). And she also becomes close to her colleague, the literature professor, Paul Emmanuel. They have this weird relationship where both make the other mad WHICH KINDA REEKS OF SEXUAL TENSION, BUT NOT REALLY. They get closer and closer, which is noticed by many people. And eventually, they fall in love, but don’t really say anything. AND ITS SO FUCKIN WEIRD BUT CUTE. CAUSE SHE’S LIKE A GODDAMN STATUE WHO NEVER REACTS AND EVEN HE NOTICES THIS. AND HE’S LIKE THIS ASSHOLE WHOSE MOOD SWINGS ARE HUGE AND HE ALWAYS TRIES TO SPITE HER. Mme Beck, seeing this, sends Lucy on an errand. During the errand, Lucy finds out, from Pere Silas, who was Paul Emmanuel’s teacher before, that Paul loved a girl from a rich family, but as he wasn’t rich, the family refused the marriage. So the girl became a nun or something and committed suicide. Then Paul became rich and decided to help her family because they had become poor. Lucy also meets Paul’s dead girlfriend’s grandmother, who looks really old and weak, kind of like a skeleton, but is surrounded in jewels and treats Paul still badly. AND THEN YOU EVEN FEEL WORSE BECAUSE YOU REALIZE PAUL IS SUCH A NICE GUY AND YOU’VE BEEN READING HIM ALL WRONG. AND THEN YOU GET HAPPY BECAUSE YOU’RE GLAD THAT LUCY GETS A GOOD GUY WHO LOVES HER. Lucy goes home and this strengthens her feelings for Paul. And turns out that Paul really likes her too. AND IN ONE OF THE BEST SCENES, PAUL SAYS HOW HE DOESN’T CARE THAT LUCY ISN’T A CATHOLIC (BECAUSE HE IS) AND SAYS HE ACCEPTS HER ANYWAY. LIKE THAT’S SO BEAUTIFUL AND YOU WAN’T THEM TO BE TOGETHER EVEN MORE.

But, then when news of this gets out, people try to separate them, especially Mme Beck, Pere Silas, and the dead gf’s grandma. They urge Paul to leave France and go to the West Indies to take care of land there. But if Paul leaves, he’ll be leaving Lucy too. And so it begins and Paul decides to go, leaving Lucy thinking that he doesn’t love her and he doesn’t talk to her for a long time either. But before he goes, he defies everyone and takes Lucy to some place. It turns out, he didn’t talk to Lucy because he was busy getting a place ready for her, a school she could open up on her own. And in a touching scene, they sit and eat dinner together in the new house and then Paul leaves by ship for the West Indies. AND ITS SO FUCKIN TRAGIC BUT SWEET AT THE SAME TIME BECAUSE HE HAS TO LEAVE RIGHT AFTER THEY SHARE SUCH AN AMAZING, LOVING SCENE TOGETHER.

And then, Lucy narratives how the best three years of her life occurred after Paul left because her school started flourishing, she got money from a relative of the dead woman whose maid she used to be, and used that money to open another flourishing boarding school. And then right before Paul’s return to France (hence the three years) there turns out to be this storm. BUT LUCY STOPS THE STORY AND SAYS HOW PERE SILAS, MME BECK, AND THE GRANDMA LIVED GOOD LONG LIVES, AND ITS UP TO THE READER TO IMAGINE A GOOD LOVE STORY. BUT IF YOU READ BETWEEN THE LINES, YOU REALIZE THAT THE GUY, PAUL, DIED IN THE SHIPWRECK.

LIKE SERIOUSLY. SERIOUSLY. SERIOUSLY. HE DIED BEFORE THEY COULD EVER GET TOGETHER. EVERYONE ELSE HAD THE HAPPY ENDING: POLLY LIVED A “FAIRY-TALE-LIKE” LIFE WITH JOHN AND THEY HAD KIDS. GINEVRA MARRIED HER SUITOR (THE ONE WHO USED TO DRESS UP AS THE NUN) AND HAD A KID WITH HIM AND HAD THE EASIEST LIFE EVER. AND EVEN THE VILLAINS, MME BECK + PERE SILAD + DEAD GF GRANDMA, LIVED GOOD LIVES. ALL EXCEPT LUCY WHOSE LIFE WAS ALREADY CRAPPY. SHE DIDN’T EVEN GET TO HAVE A FUCKING HAPPY ENDING. AND LUCY IS SUCH A GODDAMN ICY STATUE SHE DOESN’T EVEN TELL YOU SHIT. YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT IT FOR YOURSELF AND THEN AGONIZE OVER THE SADNESS AND THEN MAYBE HOPE THAT YOU INTERPRETED THE ENDING WRONGLY AND MAYBE PAUL DID LIVE. BUT THEN YOU REREAD THE ENDING AND REALIZE THAT YOU WERE RIGHT THE FIRST TIME AND THE FUCKING SADNESS AND ANGER RETURNS AND YOU FEEL SO BAD FOR LUCY DESPITE HER BEING SUCH AN DIFFICULT NARRATOR WHICH TRANSLATES INTO EVEN MORE ANGER.

AND WHAT’S WORSE IS THAT THE BOOK IS SUCH A MASTERPIECE THAT YOU CAN’T EVEN HATE IT. ALL THE SYMBOLISM, IMAGERY, PSYCHOLOGICAL ANALYZATIONS, ARE FUCKING AMAZING AND SO ON POINT. YOU GET SO MANY MIND FUCKS WHILE READING THE BOOK. GAH. AND IT APPLIES TO REAL LIFE IN SOME ABSTRACT WAY TOO AND GETS YOU THINKING ABOUT LIFE ITSELF. ITS SO FUCKING FRUSTRATING.

I AM SO FULL OF EMOTIONS. I EVEN CRIED OKAY. I WENT THROUGH SO MANY EMOTIONS I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW I HAD.

GODDAMN IT CHARLOTTE BRONTE. I WANT TO FUCKIN HATE YOU BUT I CAN’T. GODDAMN IT!


On a more reflective note, it’s been three years since I last read this book and I still remember it so vividly. The writing is absolutely amazing and there’s this scene in the book where Lucy Snowe get’s depressed, and I remember when reading this section, I myself began to feel more and more down in the dumps. In the books, it’s not even explicitly clear that she has depression and yet readers can feel the emotions of the book and ascertain for themselves that she was depressed. And that, in my opinion, is the mark of a brilliant writer. I definitely recommend this book to all my friends and always list it as one of my favourites.

That said, I do think it’s probably necessary to put in a disclaimer. I doubt everyone will have the same reaction to Villette that I had or even adore it as much. I think my reaction stemmed in part, from my expectations. After reading Jane Eyre, I had assumed that Charlotte Bronte’s aesthetic contained a mixture of morality and social commentary. But Villette was far from just simple social commentary and dealt with many more themes than just morality (to be fair, Jane Eyre dealt with a lot of other themes as well, it’s just that I found morality to be an extremely encompassing theme that overshadowed the other themes). Villette, in my experience and view, is just something else and a book worth reading.

My rating: Read it, buy it, and keep it with you forever to revel in its amazingness.