Author(s): Charlotte Bronte
'That evening more firmly than ever fastened into my soul the conviction that Fate was of stone, and Hope a false idol - blind, bloodless, and of granite core. I felt, too, that the trial God had appointed me was gaining its climax, and must now be turned by my own hands, hot, feeble, trembling as they were'.
With neither friends nor family, Lucy Snowe sets sail from England to find employment in a girls' boarding school in the small town of Villette. There she struggles to retain her self-possession in the face of unruly pupils, an initially suspicious headmaster and her own complex feelings, first for the school's English doctor and then for the dictatorial professor Paul Emmanuel.
Drawing on her own deeply unhappy experiences as a governess in Brussels, Charlotte Bronte's last and most autobiographical novel is a powerfully moving study of isolation and the pain of unrequited love, narrated by a heroine determined to preserve an independent spirit in the face of adverse circumstances.
The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
Charlotte Bronte (1816-55) was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, one of an extraordinary group of siblings who spent their time immersed in reading and writing and between them went on to change the nature of English fiction. Publishing under the pseudonym Currer Bell, Charlotte was a great friend of Elizabeth Gaskell, who wrote her biography, as well as William Makepeace Thackeray and George Henry Lewes. Bronte's novels Jane Eyre and Shirley are also published in the Penguin English Library.