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Evelina or a Young Lady's Entrance into the World (Classic Books on Cassettes Collection) (Classic Books on Cassettes Collection)

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'Lord Orville did me the honour to hand me to the coach, talking all the way of the honour I had done him! O these fashionable people!' Frances Burney's first and most enduringly popular novel is a vivid, satirical, and seductive account of the pleasures and dangers of fashionable life in late eighteenth-century London. As she describes her heroine's entry into society, wo 'Lord Orville did me the honour to hand me to the coach, talking all the way of the honour I had done him! O these fashionable people!' Frances Burney's first and most enduringly popular novel is a vivid, satirical, and seductive account of the pleasures and dangers of fashionable life in late eighteenth-century London. As she describes her heroine's entry into society, womanhood and, inevitably, love, Burney exposes the vulnerability of female innocence in an image-conscious and often cruel world where social snobbery and sexual aggression are played out in the public arenas of pleasure-gardens, theatre visits, and balls. But Evelina's innocence also makes her a shrewd commentator on the excesses and absurdities of manners and social ambitions - as well as attracting the attention of the eminently eligible Lord Orville. Evelina, comic and shrewd, is at once a guide to fashionable London, a satirical attack on the new consumerism, an investigation of women's position in the late eighteenth century, and a love story. The new introduction and full notes to this edition help make this richness all the more readily available to a modern reader.


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'Lord Orville did me the honour to hand me to the coach, talking all the way of the honour I had done him! O these fashionable people!' Frances Burney's first and most enduringly popular novel is a vivid, satirical, and seductive account of the pleasures and dangers of fashionable life in late eighteenth-century London. As she describes her heroine's entry into society, wo 'Lord Orville did me the honour to hand me to the coach, talking all the way of the honour I had done him! O these fashionable people!' Frances Burney's first and most enduringly popular novel is a vivid, satirical, and seductive account of the pleasures and dangers of fashionable life in late eighteenth-century London. As she describes her heroine's entry into society, womanhood and, inevitably, love, Burney exposes the vulnerability of female innocence in an image-conscious and often cruel world where social snobbery and sexual aggression are played out in the public arenas of pleasure-gardens, theatre visits, and balls. But Evelina's innocence also makes her a shrewd commentator on the excesses and absurdities of manners and social ambitions - as well as attracting the attention of the eminently eligible Lord Orville. Evelina, comic and shrewd, is at once a guide to fashionable London, a satirical attack on the new consumerism, an investigation of women's position in the late eighteenth century, and a love story. The new introduction and full notes to this edition help make this richness all the more readily available to a modern reader.

30 review for Evelina or a Young Lady's Entrance into the World (Classic Books on Cassettes Collection) (Classic Books on Cassettes Collection)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    This is a very good 18th century epistolary novel. The prose is precise and elegant, the voices of the various letter writers are well delineated and individualized, and the author makes us admire the heroine and fret over the difficulties which obstruct her happiness. The two lovers—the naive Evelina and the elegant Lord Orville—exhibit sentiment and good sense even in the midst of misunderstandings in a way that looks forward to Austen, and the misunderstandings themselves are both credible an This is a very good 18th century epistolary novel. The prose is precise and elegant, the voices of the various letter writers are well delineated and individualized, and the author makes us admire the heroine and fret over the difficulties which obstruct her happiness. The two lovers—the naive Evelina and the elegant Lord Orville—exhibit sentiment and good sense even in the midst of misunderstandings in a way that looks forward to Austen, and the misunderstandings themselves are both credible and interesting. The novel is, however, not completely successful. Some of the comic characters—Captain Mirvan and Madame Duval, for example—are so crude in conception and so coarse in their behavior that they appear to have traveled here from a very different novel, making the charming Evelina sometimes look like a Disney princess surrounded by escapees from a Warner Brothers’ Looney Tune. These zanies soon take a back seat, however, and the novel resolves itself in a way that is both harmonious and satisfying. ("Evelina" is clearly within the tradition of the "sentimental" novel. Characters are continually commenting on the delicacy of sensibility that may serve to distinguish the superior person from the ordinary one. It is easy to make fun of this literary fashion, but some of the events in the novel--I'm thinking of the abduction, terrorizing and humiliation of the middle-aged Mme. Duval as a practical joke and the wager of two respectable noblemen on a race between two infirm old ladies--are treated in such a cavalier fashion by even this well-bred young female author that I have become convinced that eighteenth century society desperately needed the sentimental impulse--and its embodiment in popular fiction--as a civilizing force.)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    Once upon a time in a rural home, many miles from any city lived a girl of seventeen of exquisite beauty with a country parson the humble Reverend Arthur Villars, a kindly old man of the cloth, her foster parent; Evelina of obscure birth, the rest of her name in doubt, maybe Anville...no, it's as good as any, besides one is required... she loved and knew no other guardian... from an epistolary novel of 1778. This lady needless to say unsophisticated in the ways of the world is about to set heart Once upon a time in a rural home, many miles from any city lived a girl of seventeen of exquisite beauty with a country parson the humble Reverend Arthur Villars, a kindly old man of the cloth, her foster parent; Evelina of obscure birth, the rest of her name in doubt, maybe Anville...no, it's as good as any, besides one is required... she loved and knew no other guardian... from an epistolary novel of 1778. This lady needless to say unsophisticated in the ways of the world is about to set hearts beating faster when she makes a visit, her first to the great metropolis of uncountable attractions,( none better than she) London. A crisis before that though , her sleazy grandmother, Madame Duval a woman who abandoned the orphan girl, is arriving from France, to take over from the parson, the old lady smells money, the reluctant Rev. Villars dreads the change. Scared , uncomfortable more child than an adult brought there by a family friend Mrs. Mirvan, and her daughter Maria almost a sister to the uneasy Evelina. Another element to put in the pot and stir the plot, Mrs. Mirvan's husband , a rough, salty sea captain is returning after seven long years, the uncouth man, no gentleman, likes causing trouble...and does..Grandmother and the captain spark trouble, more like a forest fire, when they meet in the city .The nightmare begins... every man whom she sees, wants to seduce her, especially the bored rich, powerful Lords and Sirs , an a very elegant, but quite irritating fop too, Mr. Lovel, well dressed , much better than the ladies... Blushes are common on the pretty face of the girl, tongue -tied, feeling faint, she runs away but gets further into the trap ...The wealthy privileged men think they're entitled to all of the lower classes. Young gangs of boys are tormentors of Evelina when she is out in the streets with her friends, viewing the sights... Sir Clement Willoughby doesn't know the meaning of no, always trying to make Evelina do things not in her nature...besides hating this arrogant aristocrat who follows her from the city to the country , even to the seaside town of Bristol. The girl in only six or seven months finds herself becoming very well educated...knowledgeable of high society and trying to defend herself, against the pretensions of members who in reality are not the best of the nation. However there is another Lord, young , good-looking, manners that never offend, a charming, debonair man Lord Orville, but can he be trusted or is he just another phony? This surprisingly well written, biting satire, nevertheless an entertaining book by Fanny Burney, as she dives deep into the upper crust and shows its shortcomings, warts and all, and the people of 18th -century England , they reveal a complex society of good and bad...like everywhere and every age.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    A delightful read! A mix of Wilde's humor, Austen's perception, and Collins' intrigue. Even in those moments where I suspected exactly where the story was going, I felt so much pleasure in watching it unfold that it was not a moment's concern. Poor Evelina, thrust upon the world without any armor but her good character to save her from the assaults of unscrupulous men, wanton women, ignorant relations and downright cruel associates, plods her way through the maze with a grace that makes you laug A delightful read! A mix of Wilde's humor, Austen's perception, and Collins' intrigue. Even in those moments where I suspected exactly where the story was going, I felt so much pleasure in watching it unfold that it was not a moment's concern. Poor Evelina, thrust upon the world without any armor but her good character to save her from the assaults of unscrupulous men, wanton women, ignorant relations and downright cruel associates, plods her way through the maze with a grace that makes you laugh when you ought to cry. Her innocence causes her to make some remarkably bad choices, but it could not be more obvious that she will need to trust to it for her deliverance. Even the well-intended in this story fall short of offering the assistance Evelina needs to navigate this world of pot-holes. It is said that Burney was an influence on Austen, and I can certainly see that she was. Her character development and story line puts you in mind of Miss Jane right away. During some of the bantering between characters, I caught glimpses of that sharp humor that is so typical of Oscar Wilde and makes his plays such a joy. Example: "O pray, Captain," cried Mrs. Selwyn, "don't be angry with the gentleman for thinking, whatever be the cause, for I assure you he makes no common practice of offending in that way." Zing! She paints her buffoons and her true gentlemen with a broad brush, and she gives us every degree of coarseness and gentility side-by-side. I find nothing to complain of in Ms. Burney's writing or style. My only disclaimer would be that it is very 19th Century (which I love), but if you are aggrieved by the state of a woman's lot during that time, you will find this frustrating. I kept wanting to advise Evelina myself to take the next carriage heading in the opposite direction! I give this a 4.5, only because I am very stingy with 5-star awards. Read it. You will be glad.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    Written more than thirty years before Austen’s first novel was published, it concerns eighteenth century society rather than nineteenth century. As such, I found myself constantly at a loss. Before reading this book, I thought I had a good handle on the manners of the period. I know the difference between a barouche, a phaeton, and a curricle, and that a lady would never stand up and leave a conversation, and that men knew classical languages and women, only modern. And yet, I was utterly confus Written more than thirty years before Austen’s first novel was published, it concerns eighteenth century society rather than nineteenth century. As such, I found myself constantly at a loss. Before reading this book, I thought I had a good handle on the manners of the period. I know the difference between a barouche, a phaeton, and a curricle, and that a lady would never stand up and leave a conversation, and that men knew classical languages and women, only modern. And yet, I was utterly confused by Evelina. (The following block of text contains spoilers, so beware.)A major piece of the plot is that Evelina (a young girl only just out into society) receives the following note: "To Miss Anville. "With transport, most charming of thy sex, did I read the letter with which you yesterday morning favoured me. I am sorry the affair of the carriage should have given you any concern, but I am highly flattered by the anxiety you express so kindly. Believe me, my lovely girl, I am truly sensible to the honour of your good opinion, and feel myself deeply penetrated with love and gratitude. The correspondence you have so sweetly commenced, I shall be proud of continuing; and I hope the strong sense I have of the favour you do me will prevent your withdrawing it. Assure yourself, that I desire nothing more ardently than to pour forth my thanks at your feet, and to offer those vows which are so justly the tribute of your charms and accomplishments. In your next I intreat you to acquaint me how long you shall remain in town. The servant, whom I shall commission to call for an answer, has orders to ride post with it to me. My impatience for his arrival will be very great, though inferior to that with which I burn to tell you, in person, how much I am, my sweet girl, your grateful admirer, "ORVILLE." After reading this, she is horrified and flees London, overcome with shame. WHAT? Ok, so an unmarried woman would not correspond with an unmarried man to whom she was not related or engaged. But she’s so shocked that she says, “As a sister I loved him;-I could have entrusted him with every thought of my heart, had he deigned to wish my confidence: so steady did I think his honour, so feminine his delicacy, and so amiable his nature! I have a thousand times imagined that the whole study of his life, and whole purport of his reflections, tended solely to the good and happiness of others: but I will talk,-write,-think of him no more!” Yeah, that’s what I want in a man—feminine delicacy and brotherly love. Eew. Then, she shows the letter to her guardian, the milquetoast Mr. Villars, who says, "I can form but one conjecture concerning this most extraordinary performance: he must certainly have been intoxicated when he wrote it." "That a man who had behaved with so strict a regard to delicacy," continued Mr. Villars, "and who, as far as occasion had allowed, manifested sentiments the most honourable, should thus insolently, thus wantonly, insult a modest young woman, in his perfect senses, I cannot think possible.” WTF, dudes? God forbid the man you love should actually *write* to you, or in any way communicate his affection. Oh no! Some time later, after Evelina and Lord Orville have reconciled, her guardian sends a fire and brimstone letter, writing, “Awake then, my dear, my deluded child, awake to the sense of your danger, and exert yourself to avoid the evils with which it threatens you:-evils which, to a mind like yours, are most to be dreaded; secret repining, and concealed, yet consuming regret! Make a noble effort for the recovery of your peace, which now, with sorrow I see it, depends wholly upon the presence of Lord Orville. This effort may indeed be painful; but trust to my experience, when I assure you it is requisite. You must quit him!-his sight is baneful to your repose, his society is death to your future tranquility! Believe me, my beloved child, my heart aches for your suffering, while it dictates its necessity.” Because clearly, falling in love MUST NEVER HAPPEN. You must be calm and passionless at all times. If you like someone, you must flee their company! How did anyone get married in these days? You can’t go up and introduce yourself—you must hope to be introduced by some mutual respectable friend. You must not dance with any one partner more than a couple times a night, nor may you find yourself in intimate conversations with anyone of the opposite sex. You cannot write to your love, not even the most innocent and affection-free of notes. You cannot hint that you like someone, until you actually ask them to marry you. Only *after* you are engaged may you show any hint of affection or partiality, or indeed, write or talk to your fiancee. ARRGH! Reading a romance set in a different century is really a trip. As a reader, I usually know who is being cast as the romantic lead, who is secretly evil, who will unexpectedly assist the main character, etc. But in this book, all the signals I rely upon were gone, or meant something else entirely. The man who seeks out Evelina’s company, befriends her friends, and tries to make her happy, is apparently a dissolute and foolish rake. The man who is cold, thinks of her as a sister, and has nothing to do with her for 8/9ths of the novel, is her love interest. His very coldness and “lack of partiality” is what is explicitly stated (by several characters) as his most romantic aspect. Her guardian, Mr. Villars, swears that the outside world is too indelicate and dangerous for her and tries to keep cloistered forever in the country, with only him for company. The first ten pages of Evelina show him refusing to allow Evelina out of his sight. Among many creepy assertions, he writes, “She is one, Madam, for whom alone I have lately wished to live; and she is one whom to serve I would with transport die! Restore her but to me all innocence as you receive her, and the fondest hope of my heart will be amply gratified. “ He clutches her to his bosom all the time. When she writes about feeling affection for another man, he responds, “my Evelina,-sole source, to me, of all earthly felicity. How strange, then, is it, that the letter in which she tells me she is the happiest of human beings, should give me most mortal inquietude!” That reads as serious jealousy to me. Then Evelina’s father (who abandoned her mother many years ago) writes “It seldom happens that a man, though extolled as a saint, is really without blemish; or that another, though reviled as a devil, is really without humanity. Perhaps the time is not very distant, when I may have the honour to convince your Ladyship of this truth, in regard to Mr. Villars and myself.” Which again, reads to me that Mr. Villars is not what he seems. And yet, through to the end, all of the characters continue to think Mr. Villars is the most moral and high-minded of men. He is never revealed to have ulterior motives. His counsel is much sought after and well regarded. Weird. Overall, Evelina is a very fun read. I could hardly put it down, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone. Nevertheless, it contains some very creepy messages. Evelina’s beauty is praised, but what everyone finds the most attractive about her is her timid inability to say what she thinks or be negative in any way. She constantly gets into trouble (and in fact, is almost raped) due to her naïve and bashful nature, yet it is exactly what everyone likes best, and what critics of this book call and exceedingly moral message. Any character who speaks clearly (Captain Mirvan, Mrs. Selwyn) is thought of as very uncouth. Neither character has patience for the long, drawn out methods of polite society, and mock the pretentions of the fops and would-be aristocrats. Mrs. Selwyn is particularly effective at exposing the ignorance and foolishness of Evelina’s companions, and so of course she is described as unpleasantly masculine and rapidly shut out from truly nice society*. I have some very strong feelings about this book, and I’m not the only one—apparently there have been FLAME WARS about this novel, which is freaking awesome. *'"I have an insuperable aversion to strength, either of body or mind, in a female." "Faith, and so have I," said Mr. Coverley; "for egad, I'd as soon see a woman chop wood, as hear her chop logic." "So would every man in his senses," said Lord Merton, "for a woman wants nothing to recommend her but beauty and good-nature; in everything else she is either impertinent or unnatural. For my part, deuce take me if ever I wish to hear a word of sense from a woman as long as I live!" "It has always been agreed," said Mrs. Selwyn, looking round her with the utmost contempt, "that no man ought to be connected with a woman whose understanding is superior to his own. Now I very much fear, that to accommodate all this good company, according to such a rule, would be utterly impracticable, unless we should choose subjects from Swift's hospital of idiots." How many enemies, my dear Sir, does this unbounded severity excite!'

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

    3.5★ This is the oldest work I have ever read by a female writer. I enjoyed this book at the start & 18th century life (particularly in London) really came alive for me! & I admired Evelina's courage when she was left vulnerable in so many situations. the way through & my enjoyment started to ebb. This is because Evelina was left vulnerable in so many situations! By this time I had realised ( duh!) that I was reading a satire, but a lot of it felt quite repetitive & I was thinking, 3.5★ This is the oldest work I have ever read by a female writer. I enjoyed this book at the start & 18th century life (particularly in London) really came alive for me! & I admired Evelina's courage when she was left vulnerable in so many situations. ¾ the way through & my enjoyment started to ebb. This is because Evelina was left vulnerable in so many situations! By this time I had realised ( duh!) that I was reading a satire, but a lot of it felt quite repetitive & I was thinking, "Just get on with it!" when our heroine was (yet again) accosted. Evelina was accosted a lot! The epistletory format was also starting to seem strained. I don't think this method works well in novels - it is just too limited. I can totally see that Burney inspired both Austen & Heyer, but I think both surpassed her. I enjoyed this well enough to try another novel by Burney in the future.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    This reread struck me with just how thin the veneer of civilization is. Burney was in her mid-twenties when she wrote this (and had probably been writing versions of it for ten years); the central romance is very nearly bloodless, Evelina and Lord Orville being such paragons. Their relationships is only interesting when Evelina thinks he wrote her an offensive letter, but one can just make out some human interest in the two when Orville keeps coming across Evelina in the most surprising places. This reread struck me with just how thin the veneer of civilization is. Burney was in her mid-twenties when she wrote this (and had probably been writing versions of it for ten years); the central romance is very nearly bloodless, Evelina and Lord Orville being such paragons. Their relationships is only interesting when Evelina thinks he wrote her an offensive letter, but one can just make out some human interest in the two when Orville keeps coming across Evelina in the most surprising places. They scarcely exchange fifty words for nearly half the book, possibly longer, but his delicacy as he keeps coming to her rescue secures her interest, surrounded as she is by a vivid range of comical figures. When one considers that this novel, which was a huge best seller the instant it came out, did a great deal to make novels respectable, the reader gets a sense of just how rough and bawdy eighteenth century literature was. Casual cruelty to animals, the race between old women (a bet, arranged by people who purport to be part of high society), Captain Mirvan's persecution of Madam Duval and how funny everyone found it--polite society was a dangerous place. Vivid and apparently realistic ( or at least recognizable within the confines of comedic broad strokes) are the various marriages as well as what society was like for middle class, gentry, and lords and ladies; Vauxhall was clearly in its decline (Tom Branghton's gleeful recounting of what it was like there the last night of each season, when basically there was a riot and women running about "skimper scamper" screaming and people smashing out lights), Ranelagh was at its height; we see a night at the opera and a couple of plays (she talks about current favorites and names real performers), as well as Bath, bathing, etc. Also interesting is seeing the ghost of Jane Austen, as it were, for instance Orville's first, unconsidered put-down of Evelina, who, being a total innocent, behaves oddly at her first ball, is a reminder of Darcy's put-down of Lizzie Bennet the first time they all meet at a dance. Certain lines also evoke Austen.

  7. 5 out of 5

    TheSkepticalReader

    The only thing that halts this from being a 5 star read is that while this book is clearly very satirical, there were some parts of the novel that somewhat made me uncomfortable. (view spoiler)[Not a big deal to be honest but I wasn’t able to really laugh it off when people—by people, I mean Willoughby—kept physically grabbing Evelina whenever they pleased. As this is almost an assault, I felt uncomfortable trying to find humor there. (hide spoiler)] However, I do wish more novels such as these e The only thing that halts this from being a 5 star read is that while this book is clearly very satirical, there were some parts of the novel that somewhat made me uncomfortable. (view spoiler)[Not a big deal to be honest but I wasn’t able to really laugh it off when people—by people, I mean Willoughby—kept physically grabbing Evelina whenever they pleased. As this is almost an assault, I felt uncomfortable trying to find humor there. (hide spoiler)] However, I do wish more novels such as these existed. Rarely can I read an eighteenth-century classic and say it was hilarious (and not without some depth). And now I just want to read more Austen too.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Saw With Manners "How in the world can you contrive to pass your time?" "In a manner which your Lordship will think very extraordinary; for the young lady reads." First the good news: Evelina is a story about introverts in love, and it has moments that are lovely. I recognized my introverted wife in several passages. Burney has an insightful touch with characterization, and an engaging writing style. Evelina is rarely compelling to read, but it's usually pleasant. Now for the bad news: unfortunately Saw With Manners "How in the world can you contrive to pass your time?" "In a manner which your Lordship will think very extraordinary; for the young lady reads." First the good news: Evelina is a story about introverts in love, and it has moments that are lovely. I recognized my introverted wife in several passages. Burney has an insightful touch with characterization, and an engaging writing style. Evelina is rarely compelling to read, but it's usually pleasant. Now for the bad news: unfortunately, the introverts in this book also happen to be wildly boring. The "infinitely lovely" Evelina spends most of her time getting into awkward social situations she lacks the strength to disengage from, and then fainting about it; especially in the first half, it's little more than one excruciatingly uncomfortable, lengthy interaction after another. It's like Saw with manners. And the object of her constant mooning - the "cold, inanimate, phlegmatic" Lord Orville, so described by one of the many supporting characters who are complete dicks but also at least slightly more interesting than him - conjures up no fantasy more alluring than a lifetime of sitting around making polite conversation. "Nothing is so delicate as the reputation of a woman: it is at once the most beautiful and most brittle of all human things." The plot hinges - again and again - on misunderstanding leading to mortification, just like any number of modern situation comedies in which the whole thing could be cleared up instantly if people just communicated with each other like normal humans. It's not terrible, but there's only so much you can do with a story about boring people falling slowly into boring love.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    Maybe 3.5. I did enjoy this, but it took me a little while to get into; for me the stronger section was the last quarter. The letter form didn't entirely work for me, but Evelina is an interesting character, and it's a fun read. I can certainly see how Burney inspired Jane Austen, although I have to say I much prefer Jane Austen!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    If you think about the heroines in 18th century literature, most of them have a rather arduous time, e.g., Moll Flanders’ hard knock life (Defoe), Clarissa’s determination to endure and persevere (Richardson), Pamela’s dull, methodical virtue (Richardson), or Emily’s inability to understand the floor plan (Radcliffe). In contrast, Evelina's character exudes spontaneity, and the book—particularly set against the darker novels of this age—seems sunny in comparison. Her novel is a true bildungsroman If you think about the heroines in 18th century literature, most of them have a rather arduous time, e.g., Moll Flanders’ hard knock life (Defoe), Clarissa’s determination to endure and persevere (Richardson), Pamela’s dull, methodical virtue (Richardson), or Emily’s inability to understand the floor plan (Radcliffe). In contrast, Evelina's character exudes spontaneity, and the book—particularly set against the darker novels of this age—seems sunny in comparison. Her novel is a true bildungsroman, for Evelina’s central problem is learning to act correctly in her world. [As a side note, I’ve developed a new respect for the niceties of etiquette after reading The Book of Household Management (Isabella Mary Beeton, 1861), which outlines the infinitely complex rules of conduct for the lady of the house in the mid-nineteenth century.:] The country and the city form the two poles of Evelina’s life. As a “rustic,” Evelina’s rural values put her at a disadvantage in urban society. By learning the more polished social skills, she gradually establishes a harmonious relationship with the urban world and its complicated etiquette. In keeping with the broad aims of comedy, Evelina’s problems are small problems. Her main problem is one of balance; she must neither be destroyed by the urban world nor completely seduced by it. Rather, Evelina needs to retain the best of both worlds: the simplicity and honesty typically associated with the country along with the culture of the city. Though Evelina’s mother is dead, and her father does not acknowledge her, she nevertheless has someone to whom she may appeal when her small crises arise. Unlike the other heroines of this era—who are often forced to act quickly—Evelina’s predicaments are on a far smaller scale, and she is either given enough time to control the outcome or someone intercedes on her behalf. Evelina’s early mistakes prove less grave errors than humorous faux pas. Her initial enthusiasm for the wonders of London diminishes after she attends her first ball. There, Evelina declines her first invitation to dance, assessing her admirer, quite rightly, to be a conceited fop. When another man, Lord Orville, whom Evelina describes as “gaily, but not foppishly dressed, and indeed extremely handsome” asks her to dance, Evelina complies. His composure and grace, however, make Evelina feel awkward. When Lord Orville attempts to get her to talk, first discussing the ball, then public places and events, and finally the country, Evelina perceives his intent: It now struck me, that he was resolved to try whether or not I was capable of talking on any subject. This put so great a constraint on my thoughts, that I was unable to go further than a monosyllable, and not even so far, when I could possibly avoid it.”…And it is these types of passages that look forward to the wit of Jane Austen in the 19th century. Meanwhile, Evelina’s embarrassment continues. Mr. Lovel, the man who had originally asked Evelina to dance, returns. As he begins to speak, his “stately foppishness” makes Evelina lose control and start laughing. Mr. Lovel—who had come back to ask why Evelina had refused to dance with him—becomes enraged and even Lord Orville can only stare. Dimly and belatedly, Evelina remembers the rules of decorum: A confused idea now for the first time entered my head, of something I had heard of the rules of assemblies; but I was never at one before,--I have only danced at school,--and so giddy and heedless I was, that I had not once considered the impropriety of refusing one partner, and afterwards accepting another. I was thunderstruck at the recollection…. Evelina’s gaffes continue, but her problem is more a matter of fine tuning. The appeal of this novel rests in Evelina’s astute observations of herself and society. Like Jane Austen, Fanny Burney casts a clear eye on her world and notes its foibles with wit, wisdom, and poignancy.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shala Howell

    I read this because I was curious to know more about the novels Jane Austen herself read. And I must say that while this book has its strong points, its main effect is to increase my respect for how Austen reshaped the novel form. Burney's book is amusing, but the characters seem to be defined almost entirely by a single characteristic. They are either all good or all bad, entirely proper or thoroughly vulgar, fully conscious or fainted dead away. There is little development of character through I read this because I was curious to know more about the novels Jane Austen herself read. And I must say that while this book has its strong points, its main effect is to increase my respect for how Austen reshaped the novel form. Burney's book is amusing, but the characters seem to be defined almost entirely by a single characteristic. They are either all good or all bad, entirely proper or thoroughly vulgar, fully conscious or fainted dead away. There is little development of character through the book, no fundamental changes in anyone's behavior. Just two marriages to conclude the farce, with no one the wiser. Austen, in contrast, treats us to real people, with all the nuance of character and emotional development that implies. That said, I really enjoyed Mrs. Selwyn's character. Whenever she speaks I can almost imagine that I've stumbled into an Oscar Wilde play. (A longer version of this review is available on my book blog, Bostonwriters.wordpress.com)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marquise

    Well... This novel left me with feelings of dissatisfaction that threaten to overshadow all the initial enjoyment I got out of it. Primarily, it is that I believe the epistolary format was inadequate for the story, it only allows a mere glimpse into the setting through a very narrow and deficient slit. We're confined to read everything mostly through Evelina's version of events in letters to her guardian, Mr Villars, and given that the heroine is an ingénue bordering on helpless maiden or silly p Well... This novel left me with feelings of dissatisfaction that threaten to overshadow all the initial enjoyment I got out of it. Primarily, it is that I believe the epistolary format was inadequate for the story, it only allows a mere glimpse into the setting through a very narrow and deficient slit. We're confined to read everything mostly through Evelina's version of events in letters to her guardian, Mr Villars, and given that the heroine is an ingénue bordering on helpless maiden or silly princess stereotypes (despite not being characterised as silly per se), which to me was unappealing and irritating. Secondly, it was the characterisation, which Burney isn't very good at, for she endows everything good and pure and true on her heroine while she makes the rest of the characters (save for the beau and hero, Orville) look like caricatures out of a cheap farce. Which leads me to the third point I wasn't impressed with: the humour. Burney doesn't handle comic relief as well as she could here, and instead of making me smile, she made me wish she had got rid of her annoying side characters, particularly Captain Mirvan and Madame Duval, who are so grotesque and unfunny in Burney's attempts to make them be "funny" as she understands humour. Finally, the whole story relied a tad much on the now commonplace Misunderstanding trope, and by that, became so predictable that the later parts of the book were harder to read, to the point that when the last letter finally arrives, it's a relief it was over as it was getting too sentimental and in need of a quick ending before more of its initial appeal dwindled further. Maybe this just wasn't the ideal introduction to Fanny Burney's work, for it was more of a mixed bag experience to me than I'd expected.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Fanny Burney's Evelina is a book I have often heard about but never seemed to get around to reading. I'm glad I did. You can certainly see why Austen praised Burney so much, and it is evident that Evelina functioned as a template for Austen's novels. This novel gives us a clear and candid look at a young woman as she tries to navigate her way around and through society. There are the literary tropes of the title character initially not knowing the full story of her background, male suitors both Fanny Burney's Evelina is a book I have often heard about but never seemed to get around to reading. I'm glad I did. You can certainly see why Austen praised Burney so much, and it is evident that Evelina functioned as a template for Austen's novels. This novel gives us a clear and candid look at a young woman as she tries to navigate her way around and through society. There are the literary tropes of the title character initially not knowing the full story of her background, male suitors both fair and foul vying for her heart, and the inevitable introduction of a country girl learning how to navigate herself into London society. The novel is written in an epistolary fashion, but Burney manages to create distinct characters and personalities within this style. There is a clear control over the plot, and the characters do manage to reveal themselves to the reader (and the novel's characters) as the story moves along. To me, the main attraction was to read a novel by a woman written just after Richardson's Pamala and Fielding's Tom Jones. There are elements of both those novels in Evelina, but Birney does not copy their style. Rather, she builds upon the earlier novels with a fresh perspective and creative energy. For any Austen fan this is a must-read novel.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Issicratea

    This is an engaging novel, as well as a historically interesting one. I can see why it was a hit at the time. It’s uneven, and rather diffuse for modern tastes; and the plot is artificial and implausible. On the plus side, though, it has a real freshness and zest about it; Evelina is an appealingly imperfect heroine; the satire can be sharp; and Burney handles the unforgiving structure of the epistolary novel far more deftly than most. Burney published Evelina anonymously at the age of twenty-si This is an engaging novel, as well as a historically interesting one. I can see why it was a hit at the time. It’s uneven, and rather diffuse for modern tastes; and the plot is artificial and implausible. On the plus side, though, it has a real freshness and zest about it; Evelina is an appealingly imperfect heroine; the satire can be sharp; and Burney handles the unforgiving structure of the epistolary novel far more deftly than most. Burney published Evelina anonymously at the age of twenty-six, in 1778, although she was rapidly identified as the author. The origin of the novel makes a good story. Burney claims in the preface to her last novel, The Wanderer (1814), that, at the age of fifteen, she destroyed all her childhood writings, feeling that “scribbling” was no way for a respectable young lady to spend her time. Among the destroyed works was a novel about a seduced-and-abandoned young woman named Caroline Evelyn. Evelina, telling the story of Caroline’s daughter, is the sequel to this vanished work. The main theme of the novel is the sheltered and countrified young Evelina’s “coming out” into the world of late eighteenth-century polite society, first in the respectable upper middle-class world of her childhood acquaintances the Mirvans; then in the ropier company of her grandmother, Mme Duval and her aspiring silversmith relatives, the Branghtons; and, finally—moving from London to Bristol (or, better, the short-lived spa resort of “Bristol Hotwells”) with the more aristocratic circles of Mrs Beaumont. Burney uses these shifts in setting to give a highly articulated vision of the class system of Georgian England. I was concerned after the Holborn moment (the déclassé world of the Branghtons) that Burney was siding with the elegant aristos over the pushy plebs, but it’s not at all that simple; the final section is at least as satirical as the others, and aristocratic characters like the languorous Lady Louisa Larpent are at least as lampooned as anyone who has gone before. Burney has a great deal in common with Jane Austen—or, better, Austen learned a lot from Burney. Austen uses essentially the same ingredients, but she refines and condenses them, and eliminates some of the racier and more “eighteenth-century” elements. The meeting between Evelina and Lord Orville at a ball is clearly the model for Elizabeth Bennett’s meeting with Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, for example, but it’s impossible to imagine Austen touching with a bargepole the episode in Evelina where two gambling-mad young rakes decide to bet on a footrace between two eighty-year-old women for a lark. It’s actually a very good scene, in a grotesque way—the footrace scene—in that the callousness these men display towards these “low-value” human beings (old, female, poor) points up the more refined, drawing-room cruelty we see elsewhere in the novel. Evelina is higher-value by virtue of being young and beautiful, but her lack of rank and “birth” and wealth leads this same set of rakes to regard her as pure, potential prey, while the women in their circle (I’m looking at you, Lady Louisa) treat her as if she simply didn’t exist. Apart from its other merits, Evelina is extraordinary as a document of social history. The first two segments of the novel, set in London, take us on a tour of practically all the sights of 1770s London—not simply the theatre and the opera and Vauxhall Gardens and Ranelagh Gardens, but more ephemeral entertainments such as the “fantocini” (an Italian puppet theatre), or the exhibition of automata and curiosities known as Cox’s Museum, or the various downmarket inns and prostitute-haunted tea gardens frequented by the Branghtons. We also hear the language of the moment, as well; that was something I loved in the novel. Burney tends to italicize colloquialisms that are not yet part of the language, so that you can catch English idioms that are now blandly familiar in their wilder youth. Among the entertainments initially offered to Evelina in London are going a-shopping or seeing sights; she is mad (in the sense of angry) at an importunate visit; a character comments on a practical joke that he has never heard anything so funny in his life.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    5 Stars - Superb book! I am genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Not because I expected to not enjoy it but because I really didn't think I would enjoy it that much - no other real reason. (I'm a bit of a skeptical reader but this one won me over). I don't remember why I put this on my to-read list but I'm glad I did! Fanny Burney was Jane Austen's predecessor and inspiration, really. I was hoping I would see some hints of Jane Austen in this book and I definitely did! In this part 5 Stars - Superb book! I am genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Not because I expected to not enjoy it but because I really didn't think I would enjoy it that much - no other real reason. (I'm a bit of a skeptical reader but this one won me over). I don't remember why I put this on my to-read list but I'm glad I did! Fanny Burney was Jane Austen's predecessor and inspiration, really. I was hoping I would see some hints of Jane Austen in this book and I definitely did! In this particular story, I found elements of all of Austen's most popular books. I was actually astounded at the similarities. I also enjoyed, being a fan of Jane Austen, being able to see who inspired her writing. If you're an Austen fan I would highly recommend this one! I'm also a bit disappointed that because Ms. Burney preceded Austen and played a big role in Austen's writing, more people aren't aware of her. I think it's a disservice to both authors (for different reasons). The book is written solely in letter format. At first I didn't know if I would like to read a whole book in that format but it got to a point where I didn't notice it anymore (because the letters were relatively long and contained dialogue). The main character's Evelina's, background is really interesting and plays a big part in the story. I really enjoyed her character. She was strong but fit into the time period for which she was intended (much like Austen heroines). Her family though were all just absolutely awful but so well written you have to admire at least that. There are so many characters that I dislike and who annoyed me but, as I said, they're so well written - they are consistent in their awfulness. For instance in this story, the constant male assumption that they're saving females/doing them a favor is absolutely revolting (plus, they assume that women should be flattered by that!). It was annoying but I think the author made it purposely so, so I can't fault her for that. The relationship between Lord Orville and Evelina reminded me (view spoiler)[of so many Austen relationships. At first it reminded of of Darcy and Elizabeth because he disapproved of her. However I could see glimpses of every other Austen couple in them. I'm not making lite when I say that it is VERY clear that Burney inspired Austen (hide spoiler)] . My one qualm with the book is toward the end. (view spoiler)[Evelina is, in my opinion, so quickly reconciled to her biological father. I wanted her to hold out more but she was so forgiving. Maybe I'm petty/non-forgiving but he definitely did not deserve the affection and attention he eventually received from Evelina. (hide spoiler)] The formula of the book, if you've read Austen, is similar but there are some definite curve balls thrown in there. Absolutely recommend this one!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    I'll admit that reading 18th century fiction is sometimes harder than I'd like it to be. The authors either don't know, or just don't abide by, the rules of fiction that we're all used to. But more and more often I'm struck instead by the sheer joy and verve that animates 18th century novels, and that often seems to have gone missing in the twentieth century--and, obviously, this very much the case with Evelina. There's not a whole lot of unity to the tale, and there are plenty of scenes that Bu I'll admit that reading 18th century fiction is sometimes harder than I'd like it to be. The authors either don't know, or just don't abide by, the rules of fiction that we're all used to. But more and more often I'm struck instead by the sheer joy and verve that animates 18th century novels, and that often seems to have gone missing in the twentieth century--and, obviously, this very much the case with Evelina. There's not a whole lot of unity to the tale, and there are plenty of scenes that Burney includes for no reason other than that they're funny and or mortifying (e.g., random monkey attack towards the end of the novel. No, really.) But it turns out that the funniness, sentiment and mortification of these scenes is more than enough justification. Burney is funnier than Fielding, more touching than Richardson, and a better writer than everyone but Swift at his best--and this is her first novel. I'm looking forward to the others. If you're really into Austen, and can handle some rougher edges and a more satirical narrator, this is a great book for you: Evelina herself is the Great English Heroine a few years after Clarissa, and a few years before Lizzie Bennett. The most interesting part of this book, though, is the way Burney plays with the modes of eighteenth century fiction: she gives us satire, sentiment, farce, social commentary, bawdy wit, and sententious BS in almost equal doses. And most impressively of all, you can sense that Burney is in total control of all of them, recognizes that each mode lines up well with a way of life as much as with a literary fashion (sometimes this is made obvious in the novel, as Mrs Selwyn stands for satire and Villars stands for sententiousness), and is willing to give each a say--before, ultimately, coming down on the side of Selwyn's satire and Evelina's proto-LizBennettian irony (which itself develops throughout the book rather than being, as in Austen, constant from the start of P&P). She wields a kind of authorial control that very few twentieth century anglophone authors can (Anthony Powell, William Gaddis, J. G. Farrell and Muriel Spark come to mind as possible comparisons). PS: this edition is great, too--lovingly and helpfully annotated and introduced.

  17. 5 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    Catching up with the classics #12 I had such high hopes for this novel. Hyped as THE ladies’ read of the late eighteenth century, it was so insipid I wanted to throw my phone and stop the audio play. It had its shining Austen-esque moments (there is even a Willoughby), but not enough to satisfy. Evelina learns how to deal with posh society at the hands at the not so well meaning adults in her life. In fact they are fairly selfish and conniving. She is a new born babe utterly clueless, artless, an Catching up with the classics #12 I had such high hopes for this novel. Hyped as THE ladies’ read of the late eighteenth century, it was so insipid I wanted to throw my phone and stop the audio play. It had its shining Austen-esque moments (there is even a Willoughby), but not enough to satisfy. Evelina learns how to deal with posh society at the hands at the not so well meaning adults in her life. In fact they are fairly selfish and conniving. She is a new born babe utterly clueless, artless, and it’s quite painful to read about her escapades. I couldn’t hope but wish her well, and very soon. I’m happy I reads this, and I really wouldn’t mind reading more Burney when I need a bit of fluff to come down from some heavy nonfiction.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    "Evelina, the first and best of Fanny Burney's novels, tells the story of a young girl, fresh from the provinces, whose initiation into the ways of the world is frequently painful, though it leads to self-discovery, moral growth, and finally, happiness. Hilarious comedy and moral gravity make the novel a fund of entertainment and wisdom. Out of the graceful shifts from the idyllic to the near-tragic and realistic, Evelina emerges as a fully realized character. And out of its treatment of contras "Evelina, the first and best of Fanny Burney's novels, tells the story of a young girl, fresh from the provinces, whose initiation into the ways of the world is frequently painful, though it leads to self-discovery, moral growth, and finally, happiness. Hilarious comedy and moral gravity make the novel a fund of entertainment and wisdom. Out of the graceful shifts from the idyllic to the near-tragic and realistic, Evelina emerges as a fully realized character. And out of its treatment of contrasts -- the peace of the countryside and the cultured and social excitement of London and Bristol, the crowd of life-like vulgarians and the elegant gentry -- the novel reveals superbly the life and temper of eighteenth-century England, as seen through the curiosity of its young heroine." ~~back cover I disagree that Evelina underwent self-discovery or moral growth. Granted, she learned to converse with other people on social occasions; she also learned how to behave at assemblies and dances. Other than that, it seems to me she remained the same uncritical, unmetamorphed from the shy, humble young lady who first ventured away from the idyllic Berry Hill and a doting father who had done his best to keep her unspoiled and unworldly. I understand that the characters were made sterotypes and drawn larger than life to make a point, but I found Evelina's eternal self-depreciating modesty, Lord Orville's perfection, Captain Mirvan's abominable cruelty and coarseness, Mr. Villar's fond devotion of his entire life to Evelina -- all boring and predictable after the first hundred pages or so.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maddie

    It was quite cute, in the end, wasn't it?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nicola

    This was quite an unexpected delight. I generally find books from this era a little hard going; taken overall I enjoy them but the long winded and often oppressively religious and virtuous heroines can be a little trying to my patience at times. Evelina, the eponymous heroine, was a pleasant surprise. Yes, she was virtuous but she didn't make a parade of her virtue and didn't write a single line of poetry! I can't remember if she ever even fainted but I don't think that she did. What she did do This was quite an unexpected delight. I generally find books from this era a little hard going; taken overall I enjoy them but the long winded and often oppressively religious and virtuous heroines can be a little trying to my patience at times. Evelina, the eponymous heroine, was a pleasant surprise. Yes, she was virtuous but she didn't make a parade of her virtue and didn't write a single line of poetry! I can't remember if she ever even fainted but I don't think that she did. What she did do was blush a whole lot as her inexperience in social situations in the books early stages landed her in some hot water and then her family and the embarrassing scrapes she frequently fell into continued the process as she became a little more worldly wise. I could relate to Evelina so very well; an excited young girl, tasting the delights of society for the first time under the auspices of the kindly Mrs Mirvan, whose daughter became a great friend of Evelina's. I watched Evelina fall afoul of societies rules through ignorance with sympathy. Her shame being greatly heightened by the teasing from the men she offended by her gauche behaviour. Still she shouldn't feel too hardly done by as it was this cruelty (social cruelty) which first fixed the eye of Lord Orville upon her and he intervened with great courtesy to spare her the embarrassment and shame that he saw she was suffering under, thus marking him out to the eye of any remotely experienced reader, as the romantic interest that our sweet little Evelina is destined for. Lord Orville was a little colourless to be honest. In contrast to the delightfully real Evelina he seemed mostly to consist of good manners, very well in their way, but I was hoping, as the book progressed, to see something of his personality under all those courtesies but I never really did. Once Evelina found her footing a little more, another source of embarrassment was added by the addition of her grandmother (Madam Duval) and her very vulgar cousins. They were hilarious. The fights between the english hating Madam Duval and Evelina's french hating host, Captain Mirvan, were epic. Madam Duval, for all her pretensions of great learning was extremely credulous and fell victim to several of the Captains 'pranks'. Much though I disliked the women, the barbaric treatment she received at the hands of the Captain and his accomplice Sir Clement Willoughby, was extreme. Sir Clement Willoughby was quite an interesting character, although obviously pretty thoroughly disreputable he certainly had more character than Lord Orville and I couldn't quite help thinking that it was a shame that Fanny Burney didn't put as much effort into developing Lord Orville that she did into Sir Clement Willoughby. All in all a great book; I can certainly see why it was a favourite of Jane Austen's.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Bok

    Fanny Burney is like Jane Austen in pupal stage. Her novels use the same marriage plot as the frame for social satire; but what was in Burney’s writing the promise of this premise was only elevated to high art by Austen. Evelina is supposed to have been Jane Austen’s favorite novel, and indeed one can often find echoes of familiar Austen characters or phrases in the book, betraying how deeply familiar it was to her (it was published in 1778, when Jane Austen was a toddler). One can’t read “Remem Fanny Burney is like Jane Austen in pupal stage. Her novels use the same marriage plot as the frame for social satire; but what was in Burney’s writing the promise of this premise was only elevated to high art by Austen. Evelina is supposed to have been Jane Austen’s favorite novel, and indeed one can often find echoes of familiar Austen characters or phrases in the book, betraying how deeply familiar it was to her (it was published in 1778, when Jane Austen was a toddler). One can’t read “Remember, my dear Evelina, nothing is so delicate as the reputation of a woman: it is, at once, the most delicate and most brittle of all human things” and not recall Mary Bennet’s spurious consolation to her sisters after Lydia elopes with Wickham in Pride and Prejudice. And “She has some good qualities, but they rather originate from pride than principle” foreshadows Darcy’s confession to Elizabeth after his second proposal. Evelina is an epistolary novel—written entirely as a sequence of letters, mostly from the heroine herself, with a few responses from her correspondents and others—and suffers from the awkwardnesses and improbabilities of most novels that use this device. The letters are ridiculously long, and faithfully report entire conversations word-for-word, including conversations the youthful and rustic heroine could scarcely have understood. Letters take a ridiculous amount of time to be delivered when it is useful for the plot to have misunderstandings prolonged, and so on. The book also suffers from the author’s divided loyalties: obviously, she feels compelled to place an innocent embodiment of virtue at the center of her story, but in fact she is much more interested in mocking contemporary mores and reporting the witty or outrageous conversations of secondary characters. This is especially evident at the end, when the scenes in which the hero and heroine come to an understanding and wed are treated almost offhandedly, overshadowed by the endless drawing-room chatter of the comic figures in the story. Minor characters also appear and disappear to suit the needs of the story or the author’s mood, and travel to odd corners of England simply to further the plot. Nevertheless, many of the characters are vividly drawn and entertaining to read about, and one wishes the heroine to come to no lasting harm, if only because the shape of the marriage plot requires it. Fanny Burney gives us a more robust version of life among the Georgian gentry than in Jane Austen’s ladylike novels—at least the work she submitted for publication (JA’s unpublished works are a different matter). I’m glad I read Evelina at last, and I’m glad it wasn’t as long as Burney’s later Camilla!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mela

    I can't believe I have done it. I have finished it! Ok, I can't tell I have read the whole book, because I skipped many, many paragraphs, but still... I'll start with good things. The story (I mean the whole Evelina's background and how it was revealed) was really good. When I think of it I see an engaging and interesting base for a novel. Next, the characters gave additional value E.g. Captain Mirvan and Madame Duval gave the funny side. Sir Clement Willoughby and young Branghton messed in the mai I can't believe I have done it. I have finished it! Ok, I can't tell I have read the whole book, because I skipped many, many paragraphs, but still... I'll start with good things. The story (I mean the whole Evelina's background and how it was revealed) was really good. When I think of it I see an engaging and interesting base for a novel. Next, the characters gave additional value E.g. Captain Mirvan and Madame Duval gave the funny side. Sir Clement Willoughby and young Branghton messed in the main love story. Mr. Macartney added a little melodrama. And, of course, Lord Orville was simply a perfection. ;-) Nonetheless, there were bad things. In the beginning I found the letters very interesting. It was very informative to read the book written at the end of the eighteenth century. I have read books taking place in those times, but it is always valuable to read a novel written by an author how lived in the describing times. But, after dozens of letters I had enough. I really was interested in the plot and characters but I was so bored... I know, it sounds like an oxymoron. I had also some difficulties with accepting Evelina's conduct. I can understand she was shy and so on, but, for me, it was sometimes too much ridiculous/absurd. So, as much as I value this experience, I am not going to read the other books by Fanny Burney (at least as long I have books by other writers). The fact that it was a satire (and that there were messages for contemporary people of Burney) rescued the book a little in my eyes, but still... By the way, I agree with Carol ♔Type, Oh Queen!♕: I can totally see that Burney inspired both Austen & Heyer, but I think both surpassed her. and with Wealhtheow: it contains some very creepy messages. Evelina’s beauty is praised, but what everyone finds the most attractive about her is her timid inability to say what she thinks or be negative in any way. She constantly gets into trouble (and in fact, is almost raped) due to her naïve and bashful nature, yet it is exactly what everyone likes best, and what critics of this book call and exceedingly moral message. Any character who speaks clearly (Captain Mirvan, Mrs. Selwyn) is thought of as very uncouth.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sotiris Karaiskos

    In the last few weeks I have been reading books of the 18th century to learn more about the history of British literature and to understand the influences on later writers. Of course, in these later writers is my beloved Jane Austen, who was a fanatical reader of the novels of the time. Some of her favorites were those written by the author of this book and were, in fact, the ones that influenced her most and gave her the inspiration to seriously start writing. This influence becomes apparent fro In the last few weeks I have been reading books of the 18th century to learn more about the history of British literature and to understand the influences on later writers. Of course, in these later writers is my beloved Jane Austen, who was a fanatical reader of the novels of the time. Some of her favorites were those written by the author of this book and were, in fact, the ones that influenced her most and gave her the inspiration to seriously start writing. This influence becomes apparent from the beginning to the end of the book, especially considering the fact that in the first attempts Jane Austen experimented with the epistolary novel, with the first version of Pride and Prejudice being written in this form. In this book, then, we find many things we loved later. Its basis is a classic romantic story in which the heroine joins the social circles and somewhere there finds her other half and a lot of obstacles between them. Through it, the author shows us the life of the upper classes, their intense social life and their interests, from the most essentially all the way to the stupid ones, and presents us with some characteristic figures of the time. Above all, however, she shows us the position of the woman at a time when the first steps were taken to her emancipation. The heroine of the book is seemingly shy and weak, and follows all the norms of the time for the behaviour of women, but at the same time she is a woman who has been educated, demands respect and actively seeks a way to secure her future happiness, without deducting her dignity. The criticism of the writer in this issue extends to men, commenting on the superficiality of many of them that is happily compensated by serious men, such as the one who attracts the erotic interest of our heroine and reminds us of Mr Darcy. Of course, I can not say that there is any kind of copying, there are quite a few differences, a greater emotionality that characterized many novels of the time and a didactic tone that is, however, clearly less obvious than it was usual then. What is definitely there is a great influence from the style of writing. The restrained satirical mood, the equally restrained romance, the intense social critique, the essential dialogues, the beautiful and intelligent female look are the main elements that characterize it and gave rise to its adoption and further development. Apart from the comparison and the influence it had, however, the book has value in itself. It is an extremely interesting reading, particularly pleasant and entertaining and certainly of very high quality. From the first page I liked it very much, as I kept going, I liked it more and more as I was identified with the characters and the plot became interesting and in the end I left with the most excellent impressions, absolutely satisfied and confident that I will read some more books of this author. Τις τελευταίες εβδομάδες διαβάζω βιβλία του 18ου αιώνα για να μάθω περισσότερα για την ιστορία της βρετανικής λογοτεχνίας και να καταλάβουν ποιες ήταν οι επιρροές των μεταγενέστερων συγγραφέων. Φυσικά μέσα σε αυτές τις μεταγενέστεροι συγγραφείς είναι η αγαπημένη μου Jane Austen, η οποία ήταν φανατική αναγνώστρια των μυθιστορημάτων της εποχής. Μερικά από τα αγαπημένα της ήταν αυτά που έγραψε η συγγραφέας αυτού του βιβλίου και ήταν, μάλιστα, αυτά που την επηρέασαν περισσότερο και της έδωσαν το έναυσμα να ασχοληθεί σοβαρά με τη συγγραφή. Η επιρροή αυτή γίνεται ολοφάνερη από την αρχή μέχρι το τέλος του βιβλίου, ειδικά άμα λάβουμε υπόψη μας το γεγονός ότι στις πρώτες τις προσπάθειες η Jane Austen πειραματίστηκε με το επιστολογραφικό μυθιστόρημα, με την πρώτη εκδοχή του Pride and Prejudice να γράφεται σε αυτή τη μορφή. Μέσα σε αυτό το βιβλίο, λοιπόν, συναντάμε πολλά πράγματα που λατρέψαμε στη συνέχεια. Η βάση του είναι μία κλασική ρομαντική ιστορία, στην οποία η ηρωίδα μας κάνει την είσοδό της στους κοινωνικούς κύκλους και κάπου εκεί βρίσκει το άλλο της μισό και ένα σωρό εμπόδια ανάμεσα τους. Μέσα από αυτήν η συγγραφέας μας δείχνει τη ζωή των ανώτερων τάξεων, με την έντονη κοινωνική ζωή και τα ενδιαφέροντά τους, από τα πια ουσιαστικά μέχρι τα εντελώς ανόητα και μας παρουσιάζει κάποιες χαρακτηριστικές φιγούρες της εποχής. Πάνω από όλα, όμως, μας δείχνει τη θέση της γυναίκας σε μία εποχή όπου γίνονταν τα πρώτα βήματα για τη χειραφέτηση της. Η ηρωίδα του βιβλίου είναι φαινομενικά ντροπαλή και αδύναμη και ακολουθεί όλες τις νόρμες της εποχής για τη συμπεριφορά των γυναικών, παράλληλα, όμως, είναι μία γυναίκα που διαθέτει μόρφωση, επιδιώκει να τη σέβονται και αναζητά ενεργά έναν τρόπο και να εξασφαλίσει τη μελλοντική της ευτυχία, χωρίς να κάνει εκπτώσεις στην αξιοπρέπειά της. Η κριτική της συγγραφέως σε αυτό το θέμα επεκτείνεται και στους άνδρες, σχολιάζοντας την επιπολαιότητα πολλών από αυτών που ευτυχώς αντισταθμίζεται από σοβαρούς άντρες όπως για παράδειγμα εκείνον που προσελκύει το ερωτικό ενδιαφέρον της ηρωίδας μας και κάτι μας θυμίζει από τον Mr Darcy. Φυσικά με κανέναν τρόπο δεν μπορώ να πω ότι υπάρχει κάποιου είδους αντιγραφή, υπάρχουν σαφέστατα αρκετές διαφορές, ένας μεγαλύτερος συναισθηματισμός που χαρακτήριζε πολλά μυθιστορήματα της εποχής και μία διδακτική τάση που είναι, όμως, σαφώς μικρότερη από ότι ήταν συνηθισμένο τότε. Αυτό που σίγουρα υπάρχει είναι μία μεγάλη επιρροή από το ύφος του γραψίματος. Η συγκρατημένη σατυρική διάθεση, ο εξίσου συγκρατημένος ρομαντισμός, η έντονη κοινωνική κριτική, οι ουσιαστικοί διάλογοι, η όμορφη και έξυπνη γυναικεία ματιά είναι τα κύρια στοιχεία που το χαρακτηρίζουν και έδωσαν το έναυσμα για την υιοθέτηση και την εξέλιξή του στη συνέχεια της λογοτεχνικής ιστορίας. Πέρα από τη σύγκριση και την επιρροή που είχε, όμως, το βιβλίο έχει αξία από μόνο του. Είναι ένα εξαιρετικά ενδιαφέρον ανάγνωσμα, ιδιαίτερα ευχάριστο και ψυχαγωγικό και σίγουρα ιδιαίτερα ποιοτικό. Από την πρώτη του σελίδα μου άρεσε πάρα πολύ, όσο προχωρούσα μου άρεσε όλο και περισσότερο καθώς ταυτιζόμουν με τους χαρακτήρες και η πλοκή γινόταν ενδιαφέρουσα και στο τέλος έμεινα με τις πιο άριστες εντυπώσεις, απόλυτα ικανοποιημένος και σίγουρος ότι θα διαβάσω και κάποια άλλα βιβλία της συγγραφέως.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    I read Evelina for a class examining the British novel. The epistolary nature of this novel makes it an interesting read because everything communicated has already happened. I found the social customs and faux pas' of the era to be somewhat fascinating. The story is both funny and serious, sweet and sour, and happy and sad. It has twists that you would never expect to see. If you enjoy books like Pride and Prejudice, you would extract much enjoyment from Evelina.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Summer

    I know the exact date I read this book because right after I finished reading it - aloud, to my boyfriend - we eloped!!! We've been married seven years and while other couples have a song, we have a book...Evelina.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    This 1778 novel reminded me of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen, except for the epistolary writing. Despite the somewhat predictable plot, the satirical social commentary is a lot of fun (especially for those who are familiar with the social mores of Georgian England).

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alisha

    I did not love Evelina as much the third time around. Also, it's been a number of years since I read it, and I think my tastes and level of tolerance has changed a little. This is a really, really long book, and though I enjoyed the last section, where Evelina and Lord Orville (who is honestly a little too idealized) actually get a chance at figuring each other out, my patience ran thin for all of the horrible people Evelina has to hang out with. The main thing I came away with was pity for the I did not love Evelina as much the third time around. Also, it's been a number of years since I read it, and I think my tastes and level of tolerance has changed a little. This is a really, really long book, and though I enjoyed the last section, where Evelina and Lord Orville (who is honestly a little too idealized) actually get a chance at figuring each other out, my patience ran thin for all of the horrible people Evelina has to hang out with. The main thing I came away with was pity for the helplessness of young women back in the day. And even though Evelina is a person of sense and good judgment, she has to hide it most of the time in order to be polite. I'm not saying we don't do something similar nowadays, but the language of excessive decorum got a little tiring. And then it swung to the other extreme of spending way too much time on scenes where vulgar people are making mischief. There was hardly anybody ever talking sense. Even Evelina's guardian, who is supposed to be the ultimate voice of reason, mostly just talks about how he is looking forward to dying in her arms. I have to wonder, was all this kind of thing common in letter-writing and speech of the day? Or is it an exaggerated reality that people were supposed to aspire to? As a reader, I always felt like Evelina was a bit of an enigma to me, in spite of the fact that nearly all of the hundreds of letters were written by her. I think it's because, though she is describing what happens to her in society, one gets the sense that she never really participates in it. Mostly she just watches and then feels appropriately disturbed or contented. No doubt she was seen as a paragon of womanly virtue at the time of publication, but it's hard to read without feeling the injustice of it. It is interesting to view this as a prototype of women's literature. Jane Austen's novels, which came a few decades later, show society as still a mix of posh and crass, but with more of an insistence that there is a middle ground, and her heroines, while still polite, are less afraid to express their thoughts in conversation. She has also nicely pared down her dialogue and descriptions, so that they are not nearly as high-flown as Mrs. Burney's.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    4.5 stars! I believe that Evelina is the book universally suggested to anyone who has read through all of Jane Austen's works and craves more. That is at least how I came upon this book, and I have to say 2019 is shaping up to be a good reading year because I adored Evelina! I believe this is my first epistolary novel and it did not take long for me to quickly get sucked into the story despite the format. Its very reminiscent of Jane Austen (no surprise considering Burney was an inspiration of h 4.5 stars! I believe that Evelina is the book universally suggested to anyone who has read through all of Jane Austen's works and craves more. That is at least how I came upon this book, and I have to say 2019 is shaping up to be a good reading year because I adored Evelina! I believe this is my first epistolary novel and it did not take long for me to quickly get sucked into the story despite the format. Its very reminiscent of Jane Austen (no surprise considering Burney was an inspiration of hers) and I couldn't help thinking throughout the novel 'this is so Austen'! With an immense amount of humour, colourful and interesting characters, and plenty of twists and shocking reveals I was enraptured I couldn't put this book down and was resolved to finish it today. I've had my fill and I am very satisfied with this read, as it wrapped up in the sweetest of endings. If you're a Jane Austen fan please give this novel a go!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Seema Khan

    3.5-4* for Evelina. Well to start with, I had higher expectations from Evelina after having read Camilla and Cecilia because those books were outstanding! Maybe the epistolary nature of Evelina is the one thing which I was not comfortable with, because logically thinking it is though not impossible but very difficult to reproduce word to word accounts of the conversations one has had! And making a story flow in this medium was something I personally did not much like. Then the other thing that re 3.5-4* for Evelina. Well to start with, I had higher expectations from Evelina after having read Camilla and Cecilia because those books were outstanding! Maybe the epistolary nature of Evelina is the one thing which I was not comfortable with, because logically thinking it is though not impossible but very difficult to reproduce word to word accounts of the conversations one has had! And making a story flow in this medium was something I personally did not much like. Then the other thing that really tested my patience was the clamour of unnecessary chatter of the secondary characters. In many places it was totally unnecessary. For the first 350 or so pages there is no tremendous movement in the story and I was on the point of shelving the book away unread! The hero Lord Orville is absent for close to a whopping 200 pages! After the re-entry of Lord Orville the story then braces momentum. I enjoyed the latter half much better than the earlier one. One thing about Fanny Burney's writing is she tied all the loose ends before the end of her stories and gave a detailed narrative of all the different situations (Read the explanations and acknowledgements of Lord Orville and Evelina regarding the growth of their affections towards the end of the story). Keeping in mind the period in which the book was written it is only fair to spare the author the criticism on this point because I presume the readers then of these kind of books (which were chiefly women) did not have much other diversions and would enjoy reading detailed accounts within the stories and so these accounts are justified. Coming to the story. It is about a disowned seventeen years old girl Evelina trying to enter into society and also trying to gain her rightful place. The story by itself, I did like. Also one appreciable thing is all the characters were very thoughtfully designed and portrayed. No blemishes in that. Also the portrayal of society and the position of women, especially the ones without a great family background is remarkable! The dependence of a woman on a man which may be either a father, a brother or a husband were absolute necessities otherwise they could be ill used by society in a way it wanted. Specially what I liked portrayed in the book was the hypocritical aspect that a man who bore a status and esteemed place in society was not censured for behaving disrespectfully towards a woman and still enjoyed the respect of people. Fanny Burney did take a daring step in getting a book published at that period of time with such views of the society regarding women. Coming to the characters, Evelina is beautiful, sweet and a guileless girl with no clue about behaviour in high society. She blunders on many occasions but she is wiser the next time in many cases. Her relationship to Mr Arthur Villars is beautiful and touches the heart. The filial affections she bears are genuine and unaffected. Her understanding is superior and manners are respectable. Just because her parentage is unknown she has to face various ugly circumstances and also the contempt of many. Her beauty is much coveted but the respect and recognition she deserves are not availed to her except by Lord Orville who shows her distinguished attentions even though her birth is unknown and also before knowing that she may be an heiress. Lord Orville is a superior individual. Very dignified, earnest, polite, delicate, honest and respectable man. He understands his responsibilities and is very caring. I liked how he is attentive to Evelina and accepts her for who she is and is eager to give her recognition with his name. A flaw with his character was that he asked for explanations from Evelina but what I believe is that is just because of the passion he possesses for Evelina and a fear that he may loose her. I liked his sweetness and eagerness to comfort Evelina. My favourite character from the book. The other characters from Mr Arthur Villars to Madam Duval and Mrs Mirvan to Mrs Selwyn, Sir Clement and Captain Mirvan were given substantial places in the whole book and were drafted without imperfections. Overall, had it been a regular narrative or descriptive format I think I would have liked it better. Except for the unnecessary chattering of the secondary characters I liked the book and would recommend it for a read to those who can bear patience with the same.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Renee M

    There are many things I liked about this story of an innocent in London Society, and other things which were quite tedious. The distinctly 18th Century humor is definitely not my thing. But here and there were glimpses of more subtlety. The epistolary style is also one which seems to have been quite popular in the time period. It can be used to great purpose. Here, I found it constricting in many ways... But it certainly underscores the isolation of Evelina in a world where those around her have There are many things I liked about this story of an innocent in London Society, and other things which were quite tedious. The distinctly 18th Century humor is definitely not my thing. But here and there were glimpses of more subtlety. The epistolary style is also one which seems to have been quite popular in the time period. It can be used to great purpose. Here, I found it constricting in many ways... But it certainly underscores the isolation of Evelina in a world where those around her have a mode of conduct completely foreign to her. Overall, I'm glad I read it. It is interesting to me to see the grandparents of the 19th Century novels which I love so well.

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