my take: the class was billed as “a famous victorian novel you may never have heard of.” true enough. the trick to reading a book like this is to have an expert guide you through. our professor had done her dissertation on this…so, a great experience for us!
i actually bought this book back when i attended calvin college some (cough) 25 years ago. i apparently gave up… page 60 was bent and i remembered nothing of the plot or characters. it has sat on my british lit shelf (shrine) low these many years waiting to be rediscovered.
i love all things charlotte bronte: i dragged the book chicks into reading shirley for our classic pick last year…and i was the only one who read the book that month! so clearly, i am a victorian novel freak.
and this was an interesting read … charlotte’s searching for meaning & goodness after the deaths of her sister and brother. lucy snowe, the heroine, searches for a female identity and is about the most pessimistic narrator around. very little goes right for lucy. lots of victorian drama. and weirdly enough, relevance for today. inventive writing and insight into human behavior are what make books like this endure.
my source: CALL (calvin academy of lifelong learning) class with dr. jennifer holberg
my verdict: ’tis a victorian novel … not my favorite, but if you’re a classics geek, give this one a try. oh, and get yourself a version with the french translated … charlotte goes to great lengths to show off her fluency.