In Charlotte Bronte’s own life, she had a close friend called Mary Taylor, famed for her feminist and Radical views (Charlotte was a Tory, though a well-read and liberal one). Mary Taylor’s father lent Charlotte many French novels which influenced her rather French style of writing, and opened her worldview to other prospects, and the Taylors loved to talk politics and argue the heck out of the young Charlotte Bronte. Mary was a very intelligent and independent woman, who went abroad to learn French and German. She taught at a boy’s school in Germany for a while, and set up her own business in New Zealand, a radical thing for an educated Victorian woman to do. She was arguably more logical and ruthlessly intellectual than her friend Charlotte, but her intellect ran on politics and practical matters rather than poetry. It was Charlotte, according to Mary, who made poetry interesting to her, and both of them had a high opinion of each other. Ellen was probably Charlotte’s real best friend, but she lacked the power and fire of both her friends.
In this blog, Lucy has a friend called Nadira based on Mary Taylor, though they do not spend time together in this story, to emphasise the isolation in Villette. One blogger friend, Katherine, rightly remarked that I have deviated a lot from the original in the plot, so these chapters are really drafts, before I officially release them. It’s influenced by the Life of Charlotte Bronte, in addition to Villette, which is why it seems different. I only hope to preserve the essence of the novel’s core emotions.
As for Lucy’s supposed radicalism. Charlotte was a Tory but a very forward-thinking and unconventional one, and so may be mistaken for a Radical. The equivalent of Toryism in Malaysia is a party well-known for its racist and elitist views, and so I couldn’t have Lucy support it. She does, however, like Charlotte, enjoy talking about politics. Probably Lucy supports monarchy whereas Nadira is against it. To emphasise the difference between them, I added an interracial dimension. Both Lucy and Ee-Lin are of the ethnic Chinese minority; Nadira is an ethnic Malay, and more radical than both of them. I think race rights are a very contemporary issue, so I have included it in the plot.