Five life-changing books

Credit : booksaboutlife.com

Books can be the best possible source of constant companionship. They come in all different sizes and stories to suit each of our tastes and needs. But a book can sometimes be more than just an instrument to alleviate boredom. Sometimes they can one’s outlook in life. They are the grand category of books often referred to as ‘Life-changing’.

As a bibliophile and a book addict I’m happy to say I’ve seen my share of such books. Sometimes these are confused with self-help books but I’m referring to works, born out of the imagination of genius’ of writers. But don’t get it wrong. I’m not one against self-help books and I have my favourites in this section too. But how impactful they are to life is questionable according to me. For a truth put straight seldom is received in the way it should and so are secrets. And when it comes to life it’s one big secret and one big truth as well.

So, the first in this line that comes to my mind is J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. It’s got a beautiful philosophy underlying all the adventure. It teaches a most important lesson in life- Let go. And there are anecdotes aplenty to take as the escapade progresses.

Here’s a beautiful line from the book:

 The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.

Holden is the quintessential urban yogi of sorts whom I personally try to emulate in terms of outlook towards life and Salinger is the typical genius of a writer whose writing amazes me.

The next book that flashes in my mind is Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. It’s a one of a kind book and I’m only too happy that I was able to read last year. It was instantly my favourite the time I read it. Short and crisp though it is the point is nailed so very clearly. Even if the theme is not one that can so easily be said or understood. Only a writer who has felt it can impart such clarity of thought and fact to the reader and the reader in turn can capture the essence quickly. One needs a little spiritual spark to get anything out it; read the book at the least. But such a reader is bound to get a seed of the truth vital to his quest. I can say that with conviction for I did get a lot out of it. For others who simply want to get a glimpse into Buddha you get more than that. Herman Hesse has Buddha demystified for the commonest of people. I wouldn’t say it’s the most precise chronicling of Lord Buddha’s life and teachings but the essential extracts are set on a platter and hence the life-changing quality.

Oftentimes a book cannot be anything if it is a bestseller. A bestselling book is now a book which has reached its saturation level of popularity and its universal acceptance has sometimes invariably rendered it a clichéd image. It is a sad reality which won’t keep me from listing Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert here. Everything’s said and done and what’s more even shown in this case. Its honesty is pivotal to its success and reach and so is its passionate telling instrumental in striking that personal connection with me. The same lesson re-surfaces: Let go.

Now I come to another important book which is quite interesting in that I’m impelled to list it now but asked a year ago I would have fiercely detested its very mention. The book I’m referring to here is A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. For an Austen fan much accustomed to happy ending and sweet twists reading this one felt like chewing a big chunk of raw bitter gourd. But after exactly one year I feel there was much truth. It wasn’t a waste of labouring over seven hundred pages of one heavy and gruesome book after all. Interestingly I also noticed having noted down just three lines from the book. And here the golden lines are:

“In the end, it’s all a question of balance”

“You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair”

“…Please always remember, the secret of survival is to embrace change, and to adapt”

They may be lines we’ve heard over and over but that doesn’t reduce their truthfulness in the least. And put in their context and storyline they make one big, impactful picture.

Finally the last one that I’m going to name here, assuming that I’m to name only five books, is Wuthering Heights. Yes, the gothic romance by Emily Bronte gave to me understand what a hero can actually be at the age of thirteen. I read the book twice immediately after my first reading to just make sure that I didn’t make any mistake in discerning the story. One thing, it strangely made me braver in matters of death and other grim aspects of life. On a more philanthropic level it taught me what love can be. It can be dark. It can be grim. It can be excruciating. But it can be true too. Heathcliff is a one of a kind hero whom I’ll always turn to at some point of time in life repeatedly.

So, there’s a cherry picked version of books that strike me as life changing. As of now.

I hope to turn this into a feature where we have other book lovers talk about books that changed their lives and the lessons they imbibed from them. As always I look forward to your support and suggestions.

 

 

 

 

 

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Jane Austen January: The Final Chapter

Jane Austen SOURCE: Google

It feels a bit disheartening not to be able to complete the fourth book in my attempt to read four of Austen’s fantastic novels this January. But what with tight writing schedules, other readings to get done, a bit of health issues too I’m happy to have experienced three delightful books by ‘The Lady’- Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.

What I learn from Austen every time I read is the credibility of characters more than anything. The stories just seem like normal love stories but beneath them lies the world that I so take pleasure in knowing and understanding. I love the bows, the dinners, the manners, the ribbons, the dresses, the manners, not to mention the wonderful suitors. Though live back then is touted to have been boring by the children of technology of today’s world, in my view it is quite the contrary. With grand and elegant pianoforte’s to be mastered, room full of books by the masters of English Literature to be devoured, long and insightful letters to be written to the dear, courteous notes and calls to be given to neighbours, breathtaking parks and mansions to visit where was the time to be idle? Living like that has always been one of my many utopian dreams.

But Austen more than sufficiently provides for my fancies. Whatever views literary critics may take I for one will always admire the novels and turn to them for comfort and camaraderie.

Now I thought I might share some of my favourites out of her six popular novels.

Favourite Setting: Barton Park from Sense and Sensibility

Enjoyably Annoying character: Mrs. Jennings from Sense and Sensilibity

Favourite Non-heroine Sibling: Mary Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

Favourite Notorious Character: Frank Churchill from Emma and Lydia from Pride and Prejudice

Favourite Stately character: Sir Thomas Bertram from Mansfield Park

The character(s) I laughed my off reading: Collins and Catherine De Bourgh from Pride and Prejudice

Favourite hero: Fitzwilliam Darcy( I know, very typical, but that’s that)

Favourite heroine: I just cannot zero in on one. It would be pointless to cherry pick for the Austen fan that I am.

Favourite lucky character(s): Fanny Price from Mansfield Park and Wickam from Pride and Prejudice.

Favourite Parent/ Parents: The Morlands and Mr. Woodhouse

Favourite Saint: Anne Elliot from Persuasion

Favourite kids: The Musgroves pack from Persuasion

And the list is endless I think, so it would be best if I just let it be.

And now it feels like I have come to the end of something so enjoyable and invigorating. Nonetheless, I will continue to read them in the future. And it was a bang-up start for the year and thanks to all of you who joined in to make it an even more pleasant experience.

Jane Austen January: Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time favourites. Yeah, I know. But come on liking a book must not become a cliché and talking about it too. So to establish the practise I’m going try to pontificate now. Whenever I ponder about its universal popularity only one fact resurfaces over and again- we are all human beings who pull through the hardships of life sustained by love and a happy ending.

For those of you looking for a review of the book, new-timers, this is what I can say. It’s a beautiful story and you must go read it. It wouldn’t do justice to the book to describe it as a ‘timeless classic’, ‘immortal piece’, etc. Go read it and experience it.

Now, Elizabeth Bennet according to me is the perfect girl that every noble man on earth should lust for. Elizabeth is quick witted, loyal, sensible and altogether so endearing that no scene can do without her. If the people and places came to life, it would feel completely exanimate without her presence. She is one lady whose very flaw extols her beauty more than her virtues. So it’s not just the friction factor here that makes Darcy and Lizzie the most sensible pair. And there obviously lies the ingenius Austen touch.

If I have to say I love something more than the rest then that would be Wickam. Yes the infamous cad who is so impossibly smooth. When I imagine a fictitious scene set in the Regency period I can’t conjure up anything but ‘handsome mansions’, elegant young women, wealthy noble suitors and balls(of course). It’s just so incredible to encounter a person like Wickam. I can never think about him without remembering Maugham’s Tom Ramsay. They are two characters from fiction that I adulate despite their notoriety. You’ve got to be smart to be bad too. I mean one cannot possibly reject “a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address” unless of course the post-conflict Darcy comes around with his ‘bewitched’ heart.Collins, the annoying puny fellow, is the core spice of the story according to me. Where else would Lizzie go to but his humble dwelling(with its benefactress the Lady Catherine de Bourgh) and how else can Darcy do what he does?

It’s all too perfect, just there for the reader to revel in. Austen certainly poured out all the passion she had into this novel. How else can it survive the vagaries of fads over two centuries?

And I’m seeing stars now because as I was typing this post I also took this quiz and voila!

I resemble Elizabeth Bennet! Strangegirl.com you totally made my day! And why not take the quiz yourself and post your results. I’m more than eager to know.

 

 

 

 

 

Jane Austen January: A tale to relish

Via Google

“The family of Dashwood had been long settled in Sussex”

These are the opening lines of one of my favourite novels of all time. At first when I read I thought it a very unassuming starting and that elusiveness is what I like most about it now. It was indeed a very happy excuse for me to read Sense and Sensibility so slowly, allowing for other hum drum things to get in the way, while I thoroughly took in the tale one bit at a time, once again. But nevertheless it was fresh as ever. I never stop being amazed with the little astonishing dialogues and other tit bits that I missed last time.

I love stories where there’s less crowd and more action. This is exactly one such story. Though I’m easily provoked to declare every one of Austen’s novels as my favourite, I completely reserve my total love to Sense and Sensibility. Elinor and Marianne, are just the two sisters who can capture my interest- one all composure, the other all passion. I’ve always admired how much their characters do justice to the title, the words- Sense and Sensibility. I suppose that’s the beauty of a classic- you love it through and through from its title to the font of the print in various versions.

But this isn’t just about the superfluous beauty for the story is well entrenched into the ways and workings of the society which makes it a perfect mirror to project love and despair in all its intricacies. Elinor and her sister, poles apart in their personas eventually set their hearts upon men who are equally different from one another. But strangely their hearts are broken in an arguably similar manner- in that they both have other women who are in the way, for quite dissimilar reasons though. While Elinor secretly suffers her losses, Marianne, whose love for Mr.Willouby, was openly known to the world, is mortified to know that he was to marry another lady Miss Gray. A typical heartbreaking twist yet the reasons for the betrayal that unfold and the way in which they are introduced to the reader sets its mark as a work of Jane Austen. Elinor’s disappointment in Mr. Edward Ferrars’ secret engagement to Miss Lucy, her short time companion, is borne by her with so much of natural virtue.

Of course the sisters meet with happy endings in the end, as all of Austen’s lucky heroines. But the intermediary trials and lessons of Elinor and Marianne are certainly endearing. Marianne’s notions of love and wild passion are subdued by her shockingly disappointing relationship with Willouby and she learns to love sensibly in the end and finds happiness in her long time admirer and well wisher, Colonel Brandon. For Elinor it’s more of a test of her fortitude and constancy that she triumphs to be rewarded with a happy life with Edward Ferrars.

I love the book for three others reasons apart from the beauty of the tale. Firstly it is the ironies that are aplenty and very humourous to note, as always. The most important one bring that Edward who couldn’t read with feeling for the entire world, wished to take orders. I constantly kept imagining the annoying Mrs. Palmers saying, “Oh! How droll Mr. Ferrars sermons are!” Secondly, the characters with whom I instantly got used to than I usually do interested me. Thirdly, the beautiful parks and walks that Marianne so enjoys earnestly made me yearn, once again, to live in that fanciful era.

I must also admit that I have myself learnt a few vital lessons for Elinor represents the kind of person I certainly wish to be and Marianne’s character is nearly what I am.  If I have to recommend a great read now with delightful people, well plotted story with romance too, one that you would want to read over and over, it should be this.

Jane Austen January: Re-visiting Emma

Emma had to be the first book to read as a part of Jane Austen January because the first joys of reading it years ago remained with me. And I must say it was just like visiting an old friend’s when I read it now. It is a formidable book in terms of size and a masterpiece in terms of the one and only captivating character- Emma. In no other book have I found myself so freely, without any ambiguity in deciding, declaring that the heroine is the one who is to be admired the most. I love her sensibility, as they say, and that innocence which is so characteristic of her and her alone.

After reading so much of Austen I no more seek to understand her style and writing but just admire it. I haven’t read any accounts of Austen’s personal life as yet, unfortunately. But as I understood from the movie ‘Becoming Jane’, Austen was determined to give her readers excellent suitors for her heroine. I read Emma much before I read Pride and Prejudice for the first and even after Mr. Knightley stuck on to his No.1 position in my view. Of all the things I love in Jane Austen’s books it is the starkly different men that she introduces. The very name, Knighley, so regal and stoic, captured my heart. And then his unfaltering, noble love for the one girl who enraptured him, even when she was just thirteen!

Though Pride and Prejudice is touted be her best, Emma I personally feel surpasses it by being more than just a love story. There isn’t blind passion, and most of all there’s no hurry at all. Everyone is done justice and there’s happiness. I love this most about this book. Mr. Woodhouse, Emma’s father is another ingenious creation, a formidable check to the progress of fast-moving love. But not once does his character seem as an impediment, neither to Emma nor to the reader. He is one cute character who I always enjoy reading about. And the quaint country side, the gossips, the seriously hilarious misunderstandings, the apologies, the parties amply provided for the drought of Austen’s world that I faced last year.

If there’s one thing I admire more than the story itself, it’s the long letters that Austen never fails to include. I hope I can someday be able to write a fictional letter half that length, with the same quality and also find faults with it. Every time I read them I seriously feel for the loss of the art. One of the main reasons that reading Austen is so delightful for me is that even in the midst of prejudice and class conflicts the importance of humaneness shines forth. It provides me with the re-assurances that I sometimes need when caught in the quagmire of life.

“There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart,” said she afterwards to herself. “There is nothing to be compared to it. Warmth and tenderness of heart, with an affectionate, open manner, will beat all the clearness of head in the world, for attraction, I am sure it will. It is tenderness of heart which makes my dear father so generally beloved—which gives Isabella all her popularity.—I have it not—but I know how to prize and respect it.—

It’s also interesting to note that it was just a matter of talking a small idea out and a whole bunch of people end up at a picnic or a party. And there’s no dearth for humour too in Emma. This is one excerpt that I love:

“Oh! now you are looking very sly. But consider;—you need not be afraid of delegating power to me. I am no young lady on her preferment. Married women, you know, may be safely authorized. It is my party. Leave it all to me. I will invite your guests.”

“No,”—he calmly replied,—”there is but one married woman in the world whom I can ever allow to invite what guests she pleases to Donwell, and that one is——”

“—Mrs. Weston, I suppose,” interrupted Mrs. Elton, rather mortified.

“No—Mrs. Knightley;—and, till she is in being, I will manage such matters myself.”

Though there’s very little description of places in this book it still is exciting to imagine it. And now these are for your pleasant perusal:

Image courtesy: JASNA

Box Hill

~ You may also want to read this informative and insightful article Adoring the Girl Next Door: Geography in Austen’s Novels  
(The next thing for me will be to hunt for the DVD because I haven’t watched it as yet. Be sure to tell me about it if you’ve seen it)

Jane Austen January: Five Links

I’m having an absolutely great time with Emma Woodhouse and her fun schemes. And I just dropped by from Hartfield to share these links which I thought would elevate the experience. Do visit them if you have some time to spare.

~ Pemberly – A site where you can meet lots of Austen fans, learn more about her and spend time.

~ Strange Girl – The best part of this site is the quiz in which you get to discover which Austen heroine you resemble. It’s fun, you know.

~ Jane Austen’s World – One passionate blog I must say.

~ Pemberly Couture – It’s a cool one where you buy some cute stuff. Also there are lots of little things to see and be happy about.

~ Jane Austen Centre – A useful website if you are a fan of Austen and live in England. It’s interesting to browse otherwise also.

Now I’m off to Hartfield again. Perhaps I’ll be just on time to catch the Knightley’s in conversation.

Book Review: A Room with a view by E.M.Forster

A Room with a view

It’s not every day that I come across a book as profound and Edwardian as this one. Almost everything that is lovely and sensible features in this compact novel about a girl Lucy Honeychurch. The story starts off in a pension room in grand Italy. Lucy and her chaperon have come to tour Italy and take in its beauty to the most. Their place of stay, the interesting Bertolini brims with vivid characters who take the plot forward. After an untoward experience with a young man George Emerson the two girls leave for Rome abruptly ending their Italian trip. Then the story shifts to the household of the Honeychurches. Lucy who returns from Rome gets engaged to one typical English man Cecil. But something inside her disturbs her keeping her in perpetual disquiet. The memories of George keep returning and finally fate contrives in bringing George to Lucy’s very neighbourhood. Stuck in this tumultuous mess Lucy tries to disentangle herself and this forms the rest of the story.

This is the first book Forster’s that I read and I have certainly fallen in love with his writing. The narration throws such beautiful words of wisdom that I was wonderstruck even as I read it. People and places are so lively even in the most serious of times. There is every possible kind of character in the story, from clergymen to novel writers. The two characters out of the bunch that interested me were Lucy and old Mr.Emerson, the father of George Emerson. This old man is crude in manners, loud and asserting. Yet his kindness which is celebrated by the author himself shines forth rendering a hero image to him. This I think is justified also because he is instrumental in clearing things up in the end. His character is consistently shown to be good and eccentric in equal measure. The old man can be rightly described to be strangely intellectual for one with many weird idiosyncrasies.

But Lucy, the female protagonist whose life the author tells, is only constantly changing. It feels like you’re being shown different facets of her through a kaleidoscope. And I love dynamic characters like her.

It’s not just the characters that make this a classic. No book can become a classic without originality in perspective. And Forster is simply wonderful in this aspect. He tells: Do you suppose there’s any difference between Spring in nature and Spring in man? But there we go, praising the one and condemning the other as improper, ashamed that the same laws work eternally through both. This one dialogue speaks much in its depth. We come to know clearly that the society and its mindset weren’t much different from the present. Love was seen with equal disgust as it’s seen today in some societies.

There were moments while I read when I was astounded by the little commentaries on life and nature in general. Imageries are found aplenty in this one and my favourite was that of the little pool of water that Lucy calls a Lake. Some of the deepest insights on her character that is perceivable derives its core from this particular image. A side so naive yet so earthy comes to light every now and then in the presence of this symbolic Lake. It stands for memories, the lighter and more enjoyable side of life and the most mystical period of life too- childhood.

The book also is idyllic because of the realism in the settings. The Italian paintings, galleries, dark alleys and Piazza’s, hills and picnic spots, quiet English neighbourhoods are strikingly tangible and it’s not hard to make peace with the surroundings. Forster must have had a real thing for Violets because they so powerfully render a transcendental quality to the atmosphere, at the right time, where love happens.

…,and violets ran down in rivulets and streams and cataracts, irrigating the hillside with blue, eddying round the tree stems, collecting into pools in the hollows, covering the grass with spots of azure foam…

The chapters are so aptly named, without any unnecessary sophistication and that adds beauty too. With so much of beauty packed into one small novel it is just on overpowering experience to read it. This is by far one of the finest books I have ever read and is certainly one of the best books I’ve read this year too.

 

 

 

Jane Austen January Blogfest

For all of you Austen fans who are ever so excited to join the blogfest mentioned in my previous post here’s more about it. This will be a celebration of the love and passion that we have for the genius writer, Jane Austen. And according to me it will also be a super exciting and appetising way to welcome th new year. The prime purpose of this venture is to indulge in reading together. In this era of incessant office conferences, board meetings, assignments, homeworks and all other such humdrum activities, where’s the time to get together and do some group reading? But then if we all only ponder and sulk about the fact nothing’s ever going to happens. Hence, the fest.

What exactly will we be doing?

In three words- Everything Jane Austen!

We as ardent lovers of Austen’s characters, places and plots can come up with a little more than a million ideas to add pomp and colour to the fest. To name a few:

~The reading experience which will be the greatest and the first joy.

~ Discussions on your new finds from the books and confessions like, “I actually didn’t mind Lydia!”

~ Quizzing and discovering what’s it that we love best in the books…

~ Sharing links and spreading the joy of reading, Jane Austen…

~ Debating on which movie did closest justice to the book…

~ Taking sides: Darcy or Wentworth? Edmund or Henry? Fanny or Catherine?

~ Discover a Darcy maybe 😉 (Now that caught you in the net!)

~ And what not!

I invite suggestions for more fun inclusions to the event. Books we will be reading:

~ Northanger Abbey

~ Sense and Sensibility

~ Pride and Prejudice

~ Mansfield Park

~ Emma

~ Persuasion

And now for the rules:

1. You must be serious about the fest. That’s the least respect we could show to our beloved writer.

2. You are required to read atleast 4 of the 6 books keeping in mind the busy schedules and not to mention the new year partying.

3. You are required to write reviews/ share thoughts on the books we will be reading. If you have a blog you can leave links to the reviews here. The idea is to diffuse your joy to all the others out there.

4. You MUST ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE.

That’s all 🙂

Optionally, you could tweet/blog about this fest for the only reason that I wish as many people to share the joy of reading together 🙂

So, come lets feast together!

Mixed Bag: Audiobooks, Austen, Nostalgia, Fest…

We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it.  ~George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, 1860

This is the first time I get to tell you that I heard a book. Yes, Love and Friendship taken from Jane Austen’s Juvenilia is the first audio book that I ever listened to. Firstly, the listening experience was undoubtedly different from the reading experience. And much to my surprise I wasn’t guilty of not reading the text. I could just as beautifully perceive an unfledged Austen’s world. So, I’ve actually broken the shackle at last when it comes to audio books at least.

Secondly, I have to give credit to the narrator whose voice was so sweet and enticing to listen to. I was in fact transported to my early school years as I sank deeper into the story being narrated. Back then I was a lovely story-teller or so they said. But I’m convinced about the truth of the matter a tiny bit thanks to the certificates that adorn my drawers. Well, I remember enjoying myself completely while narrating about Cinderella’s enviable glass shoes or the poor old grandma in Little Red Ridinghood to my classmates. Little did I know that I was being marked for the act but anyway it was a win-win situation for me fortunately.

As I listened to the story proceed in my player I realised how much I missed story telling and how many years have flown by without being told a bed time story. I prided in knowing every bit of detail in the mythologies and ancient stories that my grandmother so lovingly told me every night as a child. There was a certain speciality in the was she narrated. She would first get on with story in its entirety, establish the morals and allow the story to instill in my mind before telling me which God/ famous hero that tale pertained to. I remember being delighted on hearing, “And that Prince was none other than Lord Rama!” Childhood is something so precious beyond explanations and I’m not even ashamed of reiterating here. It’s just that nostalgia is so powerful and I’m just having a bout of it now.

Yes and getting back to the audio book- Emotional on one hand and ecstatic on the other I completed listening to the collection in a few hours. And then when I was a little more settled I wondered about the Jane Austen that I had just experienced. I only marvelled at that a girl of twelve could write so fluently in matters of love and friendship. Austen, the literary genius, never failed to deliver even as a child. My veneration for Austen has only increased for even those early works of hers has a lot to offer to the reader and more so for the aspiring writer. Simple though the plot and scenes are there’s much in terms of insight and voice.

Overwhelmed by the whole experience I vowed to continue with audio books and with Austen who happens to be my literary God. In continuation with this renewed Austen fervor, I planned to dedicate January 2012 to re-reading all of Austen’s works in one shot; something like an extravaganza. Reminds you of  a certain movie? Of course.

And it’s no fun doing these things alone. So, I request you to join in and make it an event/blogfest. We could have a lot of fun, you know. Who’s to predict where this might lead us all to? Pemberly? Mansfield park? Please let me know, in the comments section if you’re hopping aboard. Add your name, your blog(if you have one) and your reason for participation. I would really appreciate it if you spread word on twitter, FB, etc. and brought along more lovely Austen fans.

Update: Our twitter hashtag will be #JAJ for Jane Austen January.

A chilly read

Every book of Charlotte Bronte’s takes me one step closer to her noetic world of fiction. I was fascinated by Jane Eyre’s sensibility, William Crimsworth’s fine affairs but it was the ever pervading sense of cold morality evident in Villette that struck me. Villette opened up to me a completely different portal to Charlotte’s writing, one that I hadn’t perceived earlier from her other works.

The story unfolds with the childhood of Lucy Snowe and rolls through the adventures or rather the misadventures of her life. A pretty usual plot for a writer from the Victorian Era but it is in her style that Bronte, as always, secerns herself. Like any other book of hers I kept flipping through the eloquent pages to reach the end of it. But the beauty if the book presented itself to me much after putting it down. At first I was as overwhelmed by the story as I am after ravening a Bronte book. It struck me later that this one had been quite different in its tone.

There was much uncertainty in even hoping for clear skies, many a dilemma and what hit me hard was the strong presence of the supernatural themes. Lucy Snowe is encounters several spine chilling experiences and I wondered if I had to start believing in the supernatural too. Conviction is something that Bronte has taught. Bronte’s writing never fails to show me that she was much convinced about what she wrote and I can’t be helped from being influenced from such a strong personality. Of course the explanations for them come by eventually, but the credibility of the preceding events amazed me.

There’s a lot to be had from the book- ruthless storms and biting winds, revealing nights, powerful mistresses, learned men, compassionate physicians, loving aunts, flirtatious young women, unknown places, fete’s… But the one stark and quite intimidating aspect too is the protagonist, Lucy Snowe. I was unable to place her until after I read the book and then it all became clear to me. She passes through the rough tides of her life with morality as the base lying beneath her all the time. She’s passive yet knowing, sensible yet juvenile, brave yet weak when emotions overwhelm her. Her solitude is her greatest companion and finally gives her the much-needed solace. Critics and some people are of the opinion that this is a rather slow book but it has a world of things to offer in its elaborateness.

Virginia Woolf in her collection of essays, “The Common Reader Vol. 1” beautifully comments about the ending of Villette. She writes:

It is with a description of a storm that Charlotte ends her finest novel Villette. “The skies hang full and dark–a wrack sails from the west; the clouds cast themselves into strange forms.” So she calls in nature to describe a state of mind which could not otherwise be expressed.

The imaginary town of Villette is another enamouring block of the book. The settings are as vivid in this volume as in all of Bronte’s other works and its gravity is ever so absorbing. Events take turns in the most unpredictable manner and this only adds to the finery. Bronte’s mastery  over story-telling is remarkably conspicuous in this book and so are the principles that she believed in life. There’s a lot more mentioning about churches, Father’s and sins.

The marvellousness of the work lies in the fact that though Bronte conveys a lot she does it in the most elegant, light yet impactful manner. There’s ever so much to be learnt from Bronte. And I recommend Villette to anyone whom I meet across the road.

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You can read Virginia Woolf’s, “The Common Reader Vol. 1” here. And Villette is pretty much available in everybook store.