“I am only just returned to a sense of real wonder about me, for I have been reading Villette…” —George Eliot
With neither friends nor family, Lucy Snowe sets sail from England to find employment in a girls’ boarding school in the small town of Villette. There she struggles to retain her self-possession in the face of unruly pupils, an initially suspicious headmaster, and her own complex feelings, first for the school’s English doctor and then for the dictatorial professor, Paul Emmanuel. Charlotte Brontë’s last and most autobiographical novel is a powerfully moving study of isolation and the pain of unrequited love, narrated by a heroine determined to preserve an independent spirit in the face of adverse circumstances.
- Villette draws on Brontë’s own unhappy experience as a governess in Brussels
- New Introduction examines the novel’s social and historical context and argues for its importance as an exploration of imperialism
- Includes chronology, suggestions for further reading, and explanatory notes