Little Emily has asked me to review one of her sister Charlotte’s books. She begged me to do a hatchet job to get back at Charlotte for butchering some of little Emily’s poems after little Emily died. Yes, little Emily IS dead. Is that a problem for you? Are you a BIGOT who discriminates against dead people in blogs? You’d better not be.
I was going to opt for The Professor because it’s the thinnest of Charlotte’s books, not so many pages of DRONE to get through (I dismissed Jane Eyre because everyone knows Jane Eyre). Instead I chose to review Villette because of course it’s the one I’d choose, me being a she-hermit and knowing a bit about isolation and depression and all the shite that goes with them.
DEAD. DEAD. THEY ARE ALL DEAD.
This should have been the title of the book because although the mourning and despairing Charlotte does manage to hide herself adequately behind her main character, Lucy Snowe, she is still very apparent if you look for her – a half-solid shadow walking behind Lucy who every now and again peeps over Lucy’s shoulder and says BOO to the reader. Little Emily tells me that’s what Charlotte is like, a bit nosey, a bit controlling (little Emily is still SO fucked off about her poems) a bit attention seeking.
But Charlotte’s presence in the book doesn’t necessarily distract the reader, whereas the presence of SISTER AGONY AUNTIE DOTTY does – she crept into the book with the intention of SAVING Lucy but she was spotted before she could guide her to a happy ending; Charlotte punched her in the eye and wrote her out and tried to pretend Sister Agony Auntie Dotty was a man in disguise – not a good move, Charlotte, you could have come up with a more plausible lie as a cover-up.
How to describe Lucy? Ugly, mad, loser. Yep, that about covers it. And spinster, which IS a harsh and lonely word but it correctly describes her harsh and lonely life. Some people are frightened of the book because of the madness it contains – Lucy IS mad, nails through brains type of mad (HELLO!) which is why I like her, even though she doesn’t actually DO any trepanning in the book, probably because people would react in the same way as my sister Lottie reacted when she sneaked into my house that night. But nailing through to your brain isn’t good, it’s nothing but amateur over-enthusiastic trepanning - LEARN TO DO IT PROPERLY, LUCY, OR YOU WILL GET AN INFECTION.
Lucy’s enemy is Reason, (which I understand all too well). She embodies the many conflicting thematic polarities that run through the book – on the outside she’s a bit of a cold fish, not very likeable, but her inner self is passionate and fiery. Fire and ice, life and death, imagination and reality, madness and sanity, fairytale and realism - Charlotte threw them all in, including a lot of red and white (Sister Agony Auntie Dotty’s BIG RED CROSS is left in even though Sister Agony Auntie Dotty got booted). There’s lots of imagery, lots of metaphors, lots of angst, lots of madness, lots of words and a few of Charlotte’s friends from Angria get a look in too (including the changeling with pygmy hands, Paulina, who steals Dr John, the man Lucy fancies JUST when Lucy gets him out on a date).
Poor Lucy never gets the man. She falls in love with M. Paul but everyone else conspires (didn’t I say it – they ARE out to get you) to keep them apart and he goes off to the West Indies. Lucy spends “three happy years” waiting for him while he sorts out a future for them both but when he’s on his way back to get her his ship sinks during a terrible storm and he dies. There are some debates about this ending because Charlotte purposely wasn’t very clear about it, maybe she couldn’t think of a proper ending so she left it open for the reader to decide, which is the lazy way out – (finish your fucking book, Charlotte, you spent a long time writing it) – but for me, he’s dead.
ADDENDUM — A newly discovered revelation – this book is about Charlotte and little Emily’s sister, Anne. I’m surprised no one else has made this discovery because it’s not hidden very well. The name LUCY SNOWE is the key. Here’s why –
LUCY is the word LUNACY with the N and the A taken out. What does N/A stand for? NOT APPLICABLE – which means the character of Lucy is not applicable to the author, Charlotte.
So who is it applicable to? Take those two letters, N and A, and put them with Lucy’s surname, SNOWE, make an anagram of them and stick LUCY on the end of it and you get ANNE WOS LUCY.