This was a read for the Brontë Reading Group here in Brussels, which met yesterday evening at the restaurant "Carpe Diem". This is Charlotte Brontë's first book and it was not printed until after her death. The publisher, and other persons as well, thought it was not good or appropriate as it was and wanted to change it. However, Charlotte refused. It might be that some editing took place then, before printing it.
As usual we had a lively discussion. This is always the case when we have different views. Some loved the book, others didn't, some said it was ok. Some thought the characterisation was not good enough, others thought it was. If you have read Jane Eyre and Villette you recognise things from this book that she used later on. I found a lot of the descriptions of the city was rather clear here, not mistaken it for anything but Brussels. In Villette she has written around it a little bit more. More discretely in a way.
Here is a short resume of the story and I am afraid it is a SPOILER. So, for those of you who want to read the book, skip the next paragraph.
Well, what can I say? The writing is good in Charlotte's usual style. Far too many boring descriptions of everything around. You never get to really know the characters. They are all behaving a little bit peculiar. What is a little bit astounding though is the the 'love scenes' are quite explicit. Please misunderstand me right, not like it would be today. But, she sits in his knee, they kiss and so on and so forth. She also has a lot of social thinking in the book, especially concerning equality for women. Frances is very upset when she hears that William gets 8000 FR per year and she only gets 1200. Also Frances wants to continue working after they have married. Here Charlotte is really ahead of her time. As you might understand, I was not one of those who loved the book. However, since she has not written that many books, I think that if you are a Charlotte Brontë fan you just have to read it. The book is rather short as well.