Monday, January 12, 2009

Villette

Happy New Year everyone! Over the first two weeks of January, I have been very busy – I’ve been doing bunches of interviews and then took a long road trip to visit a few places I am interviewing at. In the complete absence of a computer and a TV, I finished two books – I listened to a book on CD in the car, and read a Rumpole book while I wasn’t driving. Considering that this is in less than two weeks, I am quite impressed with myself. Not too bad, eh?

The first book I finished was Villette, considered to be Charlotte Brontë’s best work. Although Brontë’s Jane Eyre has always been one of my favorites, Villette has surpassed Jane Eyre in my opinion and has risen up to my top three books of all time next to The Way of All Flesh and Brideshead Revisited. It is a BEAUTIFUL book – it gives one an intimate view of the thoughts and psychology of the narrator. It is amazingly expressive, sensitive, and touching. Towards the end of the book, I could not bear how heart-wrenchingly sad the plot was getting and was streaming tears as I was driving (this was the book I read on CD). On the last CD, I had to pull over and sob uncontrollably because of the transparent beauty of what I was hearing. Villette is a semi-autobiographical book which draws heavily on Charlotte Brontë’s time in Brussels at the pensionnat of M. and Mme. Heger. Brontë’s love for M. Heger was unrequited, and the depth of her sadness is reflected in Villette. The intensity of her love and pain is described beautifully. It smote my heart to think that love like that had in real life been spurned. I alternated between so many emotions as I listened to the book – love, anger, joy, hatred, despair… It is a rare writer who can draw out emotions like Brontë did from me through Villette. God bless her!!!

Roundup of the books I read last year – I surpassed my goal of twenty-four books by three.

Lord Emsworth and Others - Wodehouse
Poirot Investigates - Christie
The Miracle at Speedy Motors - Smith
Murder in Three Acts - Christie
The Golden Ball and Other Stories - Christie
The Penge Bungalow Murders - Mortimer
Mr. Parker Pyne, Detective - Christie
Funny Boy - Selvadurai
The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories - Christie
Dolores Claiborne - King
Espresso Tales - Smith
A Season of Betrayals - Hyder
44, Scotland Street - Smith
Murder at Hazelmoor - Christie
Morality for Beautiful Girls - Smith
Persian Girls - Rachlin
At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances - Smith
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive - Smith
No Country for Old Men - McCarthy
Blue Shoes and Happiness - Smith
The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs - Smith
Portuguese Irregular Verbs - Smith
The Kalahari Typing School for Men - Smith
Tears of the Giraffe - Smith
Kamasutra - Vatsyayana
The Full Cupboard of Life - Smith
Forgive Us Our Press Passes – Skidmore

3 comments:

Anand said...

Asha,

I burst into laughter.
With the mental picture of you.
Pulled over on the side of a freeway.
Sitting in your car.
CD paused.
And you sobbing uncontrollably.

It is a rare writer who can draw out hysterical laughter like you did from me through something so melancholic. God bless you!!!

Rhett said...

I'll try and get a hold of Villette. Defn on my to-be-read list!

Azalea said...

Hee hee. Anand, I know... I feel quite embarrassed myself at having pulled over and sobbed so hard. But that's now. At the time I was quite moved. And I did cry for a long time. :-(

Rhett, give it a try... wait till the end of the first few chapters to really get into the psyche of Lucy Snowe. Good luck!