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Publisher's Summary

Hailed as Charlotte Brontë’s “finest novel” by Virginia Woolf, Villette is the timeless semi-autobiographical tale of Lucy Snowe. Left with no family and no money, Lucy goes against her own timid nature and travels to the small city of Villette, France, where she becomes a school teacher in Madame Beck’s school for girls. During her stay, she falls in love—twice—and discovers an independent, inner strength rarely seen in women of her time.

Public Domain (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC

What listeners say about Villette

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Divine Ms. Porter delivers as always

A beautiful performance of Charlotte Bronte's highly under-appreciated (but best, in my opinion) work. Not just a reader who is good with dialects, Davina Porter is an *actress* who performs each book with passion, emotion, and full commitment.

14 people found this helpful

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Wow said the male listener

I've read about six classics by women authors this year, all books that I'd managed to avoid during my formal education years. Villette is definitely my favorite. A woman without means ventures much on a trip to a destination unknown to her, without letters of introduction or even enough coin to support herself upon arrival, and makes a go of it. At least, as "a go of it" would be defined 170 years ago in England.

My only piece of advice: Probably better read, with a good French-English dictionary at your side, unless your command of spoken French is passingly adequate.

13 people found this helpful

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great narration !

What does Davina Porter bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She has fantastic french. She has specific voices for each character. She uses several different accents and pulls them off very well. She puts feeling and interest into her reading. I enjoyed Davina as a narrator.

9 people found this helpful

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  • HK
  • 12-15-17

enjoyable relaxing story, fantastic narration

I enjoyed listening to this on my commute. A story about people nad their relationships and perceptions and growth. Simple without major drama, it was a perfect companion for driving in daily Los Angeles traffic for my commute. However the one thing that drove me nuts was that a large portion of it was spoken in FRENCH!!! I DON'T KNOW FRENCH, so I have no idea what took place in those scenes, other than a bit of inferred guessing. Why on EARTH would the book have significant plot points in a language the reader likely would not understand? WHY not translate it??????

5 people found this helpful

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Too much french

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This was a good book, however there's a lot of french in it. I can read french, but it was quite annoying to miss major plot points because they were read in french, Would have been useful, if not true to the book, to translate.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Clearly our main character- I like how she took her destiny in her own hands and went for what she wanted.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Davina Porter?

Noone- she's always great

9 people found this helpful

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Cold, Shadow is Lucy Snowe

If you know Charlotte Bronte's life story, you will probably like this very much.
Davina Porter gives a wonderful narration. I found it helpful to have an annotated Kindle version to read along with. I would not have made it through all the French without having the ability to translate it. If you speak French, you will have no problem.
Lucy Snowe is a cold shadow of a girl and woman. She does not invite the reader to like her at all, In fact, there are times she seems to yell at the reader and not want the attention given.
I understand now, at my age, why I did not like this book in high school. The first half is a slog through introductions to characters and Lucy's dismal life. It becomes more interesting when we begin to see returning characters.
I never really came to like Lucy but I did want her to find happiness.
Why did I choose this book to listen to? Originally, I bought it because it is a classic and I try to read/listen to at least one per year. Second, it became the September book choice for Author Rachel McMillian's Facebook bookclub "Rachel's Readalongs"
Rachel gives great insight into the why's of this story and Bronte's life, making this story much more interesting.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good book, memorable characters, perfect narration.

Picture this: a tiny young girl, regarded by some as a pest, likes to crawl up onto the lap of a sixteen-year-old boy she isn't related to--while he is studying--and he lets her! Endearing characters! You're hooked right here in one of the first chapters. You know you'll encounter these characters again later, but focus shifts to Lucy, not as endearing, but a sympathetic character, nevertheless. Through her, we get accounts and judgements of other characters: teachers, students, priests, a doctor, and a school administrator. Also, we watch her search for her voice, her self, and finally, her place.

I'm glad I also got the Kindle for two reasons. First, it helps to have the French in text. Davina Porter's French is perfect, but I like to have the spelling, just in case I need to consult my French dictionary--and an English one, too, since Bronte's vocab can stump anyone. A second use for the text is to flip through a few pages at a time to get past metaphors that go on and on to describe the weather in terms of some shenanegans of Apollo and other celestials. (Bronte is much better with imagery than with figurative language.)

I don't always like ambiguous endings. The reader shouldn't expect literary justice, not for all the characters. As in life, some never learn--because they never have to.

2 people found this helpful

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Beautiful Narration, a bit long

At the 18 hour mark, I was wishing it would wrap up. I realize this is the age it was written.

2 people found this helpful

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I couldn't believe...

that I managed to finish this book. I couldn't believe it was finally over. I thought it would never end. It went on .. and on ... and ON ... with very little plot to boast of, and characterization alternatingly overly subtle, then hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-hammer. This book was a chore, and one I'm glad is done.

9 people found this helpful

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OK for the diehard Victorian novel enthusiast

This certainly was no Jane Austen novel. It's rather uneventful, and dreary but if you love language as I do, you may like just the sound of it and Divina Porter is the best

3 people found this helpful

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  • Annie
  • 05-27-14

Delivery is all.

If you could sum up Villette in three words, what would they be?

This is a classic and worth reading for that alone. It also gives a social history.

For me it was spoilt by unenthusiastic reading and by not including a translation of some of the most important parts of the text which was, at times, in French. I have heard this done by footnote references and this would only be needed where the French is relevant to the plot etc.

4 people found this helpful