(Fiction; 1853; repr., Penguin Classics, 2004)

There are some great books you are lucky enough to grow up without reading. Perhaps you’ve guarded one with a jealous pleasure—“I have not read To the Lighthouse, but someday I will, and I will love it.” Or perhaps one blindsides you; you open it by chance and close it with bewildered delight that you hadn’t done so before, that this is only your first time with a novel that you will read again and again. This was Villette for me.

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