Tag Archive: French


Villette – Charlotte Brontë

villetteTitle: Villette

Author: Charlotte Brontë

Date Finished: 06/01/13

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : Yes – The Literary Classics & The Classics Club

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

Wow.  A very very powerful book, I think.
I started reading Villette just before Christmas, about the 20th December, I seem to remember, so it feels like it took me forever.  In reality it only took just over 2 weeks but that time between Christmas NYE etc seems much longer than it really is.  Anyway, I am very proud of myself because yesterday this was the book I read for The Classics Club readathon – since then I went from page 472 to 657 so I was very pleased.  It really helps to start the new term without a massive classic hanging over me – I have lots of January exams and probably won’t have that much reading time any more.

The plot in Villette is pretty unique; at least, I haven’t read anything like it before.  Jane Eyre, of course, is the only book that seems to come close, but even that is significantly different – only the style of Charlotte’s writing and some of the typical situations are similar.  I can’t say I loved this book (I only gave 4/5) but I did really enjoy it.  I wasn’t particularly happy with the ending (don’t worry I won’t do spoilers) and now and again the long-depressive-thoughts bits seemed to drag.  Overall, I enjoyed the plot but it definitely didn’t hook me the way Jane Eyre did…although was it actually meant to…?

The characters (in my opinion) are the strongest asset of Villette.  Ok, many are a little unrealistic and annoying, but I feel like I won’t forget them in a long while.  Particularly Lucy (of course), Madame Beck and Graham Bretton.  I have to say I love the (almost Dickensian) way that characters from earlier in the book manage to pop back up coincidentally.  Unfortunately, there were several times when reading Villette where I got the wrong end of the stick; at one point I genuinely though M. Paul and M. Emanuel were two different people!  This is the main reason it is going straight onto my re-read list – now that I understand what’s actually going on, I think I can enjoy it even more next time.

I LOVED the setting in France and adored the French used throughout (warning: don’t read this if French annoys you!) as it really transports you to the setting.  The prose is, naturally, amazing and surprisingly not too difficult to read, especially when something exciting is happening.  This was the kind of book that you need to sit yourself down with and have a big long read – dipping in and out sparsely doesn’t really work…which is why it was so perfect for the readathon!

Like I have said, I didn’t give Villette 5/5 as I can’t say I loved it, but I do think it could easily become a 5 when I re-read it.  I would definitely recommend it as a classic to read for us all, but not more than Jane Eyre – it is less accessible, I find.  However, a really great adaptation (film or TV) would be great, I reckon.  It’s a shame that it lies in J.E’s shadow – most people who I told I was reading this hadn’t even heard of it.  I now understand what people mean when they say Lucy Snowe is such a “question mark“.  She certainly is!
I hope you all enjoyed the readathon and will participate in the next one too!  They really are a great way of reading with people all around the world and making a good dent in big books, even if you can’t commit to all 24 hours (I managed about 15 awake but most of them weren’t actually spend reading!)

Let me know your thoughts on Villette too – I haven’t come across many posts on it so far.

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End of Year Book Survey: 2012

Book Survey 2012Jamie is hosting the End of Year Book Survey again and I thought I would have a go this year, as it seemed a good way of reflecting on all the amazing books I have read in 2012.  My own quick wrap-up and goals for next year will follow shortly, I expect, but for now….


Best In Books 2012

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? 

I read several books in 2012 that I awarded 5/5 to but my absolute best book of 2012 has to be To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.   Yes, it was a re-read, but it is my favourite book of all time and was amazing this year as well!

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

I read The Great Gatsby back in January before I started book blogging and was expecting great things from it – so many people study it, I thought it must be really good.  However, I couldn’t get into it and I was relieved that it was so short!  I did put it on my re-read list though, as I assume I missed something.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 

I was very surprised (in a good way) with Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell: I didn’t know what to expect from this book but it was so amazingly intricate and imaginative that it quickly became a firm favourite of mine.

 4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

I am going to split this one: the book I recommended most to book bloggers, I think is a tie between To Kill a Mockingbird and Cloud Atlas.  Secondly, the book I recommended most to non-bookish people was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, as I thought them a great series for non-readers to enjoy reading with.

 5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

I didn’t really discover many new series, which is a shame; 2012 seems to be a year where I read a lot more standalones and classics compared to normal where I really enjoy reading series.  I hope in 2013 I will read more of the series I have already started over the past few years.
I did discover The Hunger Games for the first time and also I enjoyed re-reading Stieg Larsson’s The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.

 6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

Well, I could ramble on this one!  I definitely enjoyed my first Jane Austen (Emma) and my first Stella Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm).  I also discovered that I love Simon Singh‘s way of writing about maths/science too when I read Fermat’s Last Theorem in October.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I wouldn’t say this is out of my comfort zone, but in 2012 I did start reading science/maths novels for the firs time so I guess that counts (again Singh’s Fermat’s Last Theorem and E=mc² by David Bodanis).  Also I read my first books in French – Harry Potter 1 and Fantastic Mr Fox, which was totally new but great.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

I could say either book 1 0r 2 but I will go for book 2: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – I just couldn’t put it down at all.

 9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:

I try not to re-read books within 18 months of their first reading so here are the 2012 books that I put straight on my re-read list: The Great Gatsby, David Copperfield, Wuthering Heights, To Kill a Mockingbird, Dracula, Cloud Atlas.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?

Well a lot of the books I read had really nice covers but here are my favourites:

Emma

Great Expectations

Fermat-Last-Theorem

11. Most memorable character in 2012? 

I think this would have to be Lisbeth Salander from Larsson’s books; who is more unique and interesting than Lisbeth?

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

I think I would go with David Copperfield by Charles Dickens for this – amazing writing by Dickens.  (My second choice would be Great Expectations anyway, so good on you Charles!)

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? 

I will say To Kill a Mockingbird again, as I just loved it and liked all the characters and felt as though I really knew them. 

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read? 

This is one is definitely The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown: everyone went crazy about this book a couple of years ago, so when I saw it in a charity shop in summer 2011 I bought it…then it took me until summer 2012 to read it!  Although, I do quite like the tradition I seem to have developed of Dan Brown as summer reading…

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? 

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read.  One does not love breathing.”  16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?”    Scout Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.  Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”     Atticus Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?

The longest was David Copperfield at a whopping 1263 pages!! The shortest was Fatastique Maître Renard at only 118 pages.  Numerically, my average book length was about 400 pages, which is pretty good, I think.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

There were definitely lots of gruesome and upsetting scenes in The Kite Runner, which was the first book I read this year (before I started book blogging).

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

I think that the relationship between Clare and Henry in The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is very unique and also very touching and changes and develops throughout the book.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously

The Kalahari Typing School For Men by Alexander McCall Smith was definitely the highlight of January 2012: I adore those books and I am very sad that I haven’t read one since then (I have all the way up to book 10 on my TBR shelf, they just haven’t come around yet).  Watch out for lots more of AMcCS in 2013!

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

Lots of the classics I’ve read this year have been due to various bloggers and lists on websites, but there are some books that I was bought by my friends: And This is True by Emily Mackie, The Shadow of the Wind by Carol Ruiz Zafón, Submarine by Joe Dunthorne and The Crow Road by Iain Banks.

 Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012?

Well, I only started book blogging this year so any book blogs are new to me!  I love them all and I am going to try and be a bit more proactive and discover some more in 2013.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012? 

Oh um maybe my review of Great Expectations where I rave about re-reading as well.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

Some of my non-bookish posts had lots of discussions – notably my posts about my exams, results and holidays; I think it’s important to share other parts of our lives too.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?

I can remember discussing why books in translation or books in other languages aren’t as popular over at Amanda’s blog.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I don’t think there are many book blogger events in England?  And probably none outside of London so I haven’t been to any, however The Classics Club is definitely a main feature of the book blogging world that I am proud to be a member of.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?

For me, it would have to be the 1st March 2012 – the day I wrote my first post on adamsbibliomania!

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My most popular posts by views are often those that people come across when searching on the internet, for example The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.  My most popular post in terms of comments and activity was my original sign-up to The Classics Club.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Actually my Reading Habits post didn’t seem to get read much…maybe it was a bit text-dense or something.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Definitely the new Penguin English Library books this year – very addictive and attractive!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I wanted to read a classic a month after signing up to The Classics Club in March and in 10 months I have read 8.  That’s not too bad and it’s only November and December that I didn’t manage.

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?

Oh so many!  But I am halfway through Villette so I am determined to finish that in 2013.  Also I really need to read The Hobbit.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?

I’m really looking forward to loads of books in 2013: Pride and Prejudice, more AMcCS…

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?

I really just want to improve – so that means do better than last year!  Who knows if this is a possibility or not with my heavier workload in sixth form etc but I think 35 books in the year is a good target to have 🙂

Every week, The Broke and The Bookish poses a category for book bloggers to post their ‘Top Ten’ in that week’s category.

This week the category is ‘Top X Genre Books’, and we fill in a genre of our choice. Seeing as it was not that long ago that I was reading children’s books and I am technically a ‘young adult’, I thought it would be nice to do my ‘Top Ten Children’s or Young Adult Books‘.  Also, this genre provides a bit of light relief as we are all a bit classics-crazy due to The Classics Club at the moment!

 

A black-haired young man with round eyeglasses is falling forward along with a red-haired young man and a young woman with light brown hair knocking over cauldrons with gold inside them. Each of them has an apparently blushed face. In the background a goblin's arm is holding a sword. The top of the cover says: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, while the bottom of the cover says: J. K. ROWLING, BLOOMSBURY.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling.  My Number 1 Children’s series has got to be Harry Potter!  I have read all 7 books many many times, listened to the audio books, watched the films and dressed up as the characters more times than I would like to admit! I am a truly part of the Harry Potter generation – there is even a photograph of me, about 8 years old, with the huge Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix taking up my entire lap!  I have chosen the last Harry Potter book because it is probably just about my favourite and is the one I couldn’t put down the most.

 

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

2. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – C.S. Lewis.  I adore the Narnia books, and again I have read them many times and listened to the audio books a lot too.  The stories and characters are so interesting and you can’t wait to find out what happens next.  I especially enjoyed The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Last Battle, but The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has to be my favourite as it is so spooky when they are travelling through the huge horrible cloud and visiting these strange, creepy islands.

 

3. The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman.  The His Dark Materials series is so good – really makes you think about life and religion and love whilst still keeping a fast-moving and exciting plot.  This series is rich with vivid characters and the ending of The Amber Spyglass actually made me well up a bit the first time I read it!  I am in the process of re-reading this series at the moment – The Subtle Knife is coming up this summer and I read Northern Lights last December – and I am really looking forward to reading about Lyra, Will, Pan and the rest again.

 

4. The Witches – Roald Dahl.  This is my joint favourite Roald Dahl book (with Matilda) and I used to listen to the audiobook so much when I was younger.  I loved the plot and the descriptions of the witches were just amazing.  Also, the way Norway was portrayed was lovely and I still wish to visit there, purely from the wonderful accounts of it in this book. Oh, and my edition is so old that it has that amazing musty smell!

 

5. Goodnight Mister Tom – Michelle Magorian. This novel is something special and not just for children.  The story and characters are vivid and lovely but what makes this book stand out is its accuracy.  Last year I was writing an essay for history coursework all about evacuation in Britain during the war.  One of the sources we studied was an extract from this book and, me being me, that wasn’t enough so I went to the charity shop and bought a copy and read it through in a few days.  It really does show you what it was like to be an evacuee in wartime Britain so is definitely a must-read for anyone interested in that.

 

6. The Recruit – Robert Muchamore.  The Cherub series accompanied me through my childhood very nicely.  The story is exciting and unpredictable, there are lots of books so you get to see the characters really develop over time and thirdly it’s so cool – who wouldn’t want to be a teenage spy with money and resources no object?!

 

7. The Ersatz Elevator – Lemony Snicket.  The Series of Unfortunate Events is, obviously, rather miserable and I have to say I was totally disappointed with the last book, however I did enjoy reading the majority of the books and enjoyed the way they were quite complicated (for a 10 year old).  There was a lot of mystery and hinting which I enjoyed as many children’s books have one obvious plot and that is it.

 

8. Madame Doubtfire – Anne Fine. For anyone who has not read this book or seen the film YOU HAVE MISSED OUT!  Such a hilarious idea and the book is a pleasure to read.  The film, aptly starring Robin Williams, is great too, if a little dated now maybe,  and I cannot recommend both the film and the book enough.

 

9. Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman.  This book is definitely young adult, not children’s, and deals with some difficult issues.  The idea of alternative history/distopia has always interested me and I think this is one of the most ingenious ideas I have ever come across. Although the first book, Noughts and Crosses completely outdid the second book, Knife Edge, I am yet to read the last two books of the series but don’t really have plans to read them soon.

 

10. Harry Potter À L’École Des Sorciers – J.K. Rowling.  Now maybe it’s cheating to have the same series of books twice but I have two legitimate reasons.  a) they are my favourite young adult/children’s books so why shouldn’t they be on here twice? b) this section refers to the French versions.  I am currently reading Harry Potter 1 in French for the second time to improve my French and because it’s fun, and I have the second one stored deep in my TBR pile too.  There is something magical (ha ha) about reading about the characters you love in another language and I recommend anyone who is interested in improving their language skills to pick up a copy of a favourite book and just give it a go!