I am rereading Villette, Charlotte Bronte’s autobiographical masterpiece: rereading classics is the best remedy for jet lag. In this intense, gorgeously-written novel about a solitary woman, the narrator, Lucy Snowe, travels to Belgium in search of work. Stalked by two men as she seeks a hotel in Villette, she loses her way and finds herself in front of a girls’ school. She believes fate has led her to the school, where she finds a post as an English teacher. Her life is gray and quiet, but it is not dull. Orphaned and alone, Lucy is a more repressed, quieter doppelgänger of Bronte’s Jane Eyre. She does not get the guy. She will never meet Mr. Rochester. Well, there is a guy, M. Paul, but he is less romantic than Mr. Rochester (whose brusque, sadistic manner does not endear him to me). Bronte spices up the restrained narrative with a fit of delirium, a ghost, and a drug dream. The narrative has the effect of being as sharp, crystalline, and claustrophobic as a hall of mirrors.
In a chapter set in London, Lucy wanders into a bookstore and spends money she can’t afford.
Elation and pleasure were in my heart: to walk alone in London seemed of itself an adventure. Presently I found myself in Paternoster Row–classic ground this. I entered a bookseller’s shop, kept by one Jones: I bought a little book–a piece of extravagance I could ill afford; but I thought I would one day give or send it to Mrs. Barrett. Mr. Jones, a dried-in man of business, stood behind his desk: he seemed one of the greatest, and I one of the happiest of beings.
No wonder I identify with Lucy!
I wonder if she ever sends that book to Mrs. Barrett…
THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF STEPHANIE MEYER’S TWILIGHT.
Yes, I really do.
Some years ago, a friend pressed this book into my hands. She said I would not be able to put it down.
Not only did I race through Twilight, but I dashed off to Target to buy the other three books.
Okay, the story is unrealistic. Bella falls in love with a vampire. But so what? Are humans so great? Edward is a sensitive, well-educated guy. He is great at sports. He fights evil vampires. And eventually Bella saves the world. I mean it!
Meyer is a witty writer and a great storyteller. There is a lot of humor in this novel.
Is the writing good? Well, some of it is.
In the beginning of Twilight, we learn that the narrator, Bella, has “exiled herself” to Forks, Washington, a town she detests, to live with her father. Her description is amusing and reasonably well-written.
In the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State, a small town named Forks exists under a near-constant cover of clouds. It rains on this inconsequential town more than any other place in the United States of America. It was from this town and its gloomy, omnipresent shade that my mother escaped with me when I was only a few months old. It was in this town that I was compelled to spend a month every summer until I was fourteen. That was the year I finally put my foot down…
In honor of the tenth anniversary of Twilight, Hachette as published a “double feature” edition of Twilight. In addition to the original novel, you can read Life and Death, Meyer’s reimagining of the story from a male point of view.
I do want to read this, but I can certainly not buy any more books this year. Instead, I will reread Twilight.
Bronte and Meyer together: why not?