MOBI Frances Burney ✓ Evelina, or, The History of a Young Lady's Entrance into ✓

Evelina the first of Burney's novels was published anonymously and brought her immediate fame It tells the story of a young girl fresh from the provinces whose initiation into the ways of the world is freuently 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 curious eyes of its young heroine Edward A Bloom has edited the text from the rare first edition of 1778


10 thoughts on “Evelina, or, The History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World

  1. says:

    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 interestingThe 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 satisfyingEvelina 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. says:

    Once upon a time in a rural home many miles from any city lived a girl of seventeen of exuisite 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 Anvilleno it's as good as any besides one is reuired 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 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 troubleand doesGrandmother and the captain spark trouble like a forest fire when they meet in the cityThe nightmare begins every man whom she sees wants to seduce her especially the bored rich powerful Lords and Sirs an a very elegant but uite irritating fop too Mr Lovel well dressed much better than the ladiesBlushes 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 naturebesides 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 educatedknowledgeable 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 badlike everywhere and every age


  3. says:

    Who'd have thought that reading the long interior monologue that is Ducks Newburyport would lead to reading the long interior monologue that is Evelina—but that's exactly what happened Lucy Ellmann mentioned Jane Austen's Persuasion so often in Ducks that I got the urge to reread that book and in it I found an intriguing reference to Fanny Burney's novel Cecilia so I read that one too which led me to be curious about what else Fanny Burney had written which is how I ended up reading Evelina It is probably not accurate to say that Evelina is an interior monologue but it is close to being one since it is almost entirely made up of a young woman's letters to various people in which she writes of everything that has been happening in her life since she last wrote to them It's all couched in perfectly constructed sentences and paragraphs of course—which is the very opposite of Lucy Ellmann's narrator's style but both narrators ponder what it is like to be a woman in their own time the choices they have made or need to make the traps they've fallen into Both have lost their mothers at a young age too and feel the lack intensely though other aspects of their lives and circumstances are very different since there are two hundred and fifty years between them as well as an entire ocean Yes Ohio of today is very different from England in the 1770s and not least when it comes to class differences There don't seem to be any in Ohio which suits Ellmann's narrator perfectly But Evelina lives in a society with very rigid class boundaries and one of her dilemmas is the fact that she doesn't belong in any of them since her mother is dead and her father has never acknowledged her or his marriage to her mother Evelina has a uite grotesue grandmother too who though wealthy has no status in society so the poor girl is doubly triply hampered Her indeterminate situation reflects the situation of the book itself in a way While the central themes of this 'marriage plot' story are treated seriously large sections revolve around a rambunctious ships captain and his hilarious confrontations with various other mettlesome characters When the captain says Fore George it runs in my head I’ve seen you somewhere before And now I think on’t pray a’n’t you the person I saw at the play one night and who didn’t know all the time whether it was a tragedy or a comedy or a concert of fiddlers” we can't help feeling like that 'person' not knowing whether the book is a serious romance or an out and out comedy The captain's every word and action certainly scuttles many of the claims Evelina's personal story might have to seriousness “Plait il Monsieur?” asks a Frenchman politely wishing to know what he can do for the captain “No nor dish me neither” is the captain's blunt refusalAnd the captain somehow brings out the humour in those around him too 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”The captain's arch enemy in the story but all in a playful way is Evelina's French grandmother who is herself the epitome of Farce from her gaudy clothes and overly rouged face she paints very high to her ungrammatical language and exaggerated behaviour The shouting matches between her and the captain and the ridiculous schemes he comes up with to outwit her reminded me of the culinary meaning of the word 'farce' in French it means 'stuffing' The book is full of stuffing and I'm certain that the readers of Burney's day brought up as they would have been on Restoration Comedy which is stuffed with Farce must have enjoyed it very much I enjoyed it myself For books continue each other in spite of our habit of judging them separatelyVirginia Woolf


  4. says:

    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 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 holesIt 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 45 only because I am very stingy with 5 star awards Read it You will be glad


  5. says:

    I like neither the book nor the audiobook narration I rate them here separately Both I am giving one starI have not read many Georgian books and this was supposed to be funny so I thought I would give it a try I was also curious because Jane Austen loved this author I have tried to like the book but I have utterly failed The humor didn’t work for me I would spot a line that clearly was meant to be funny but I didn’t even crack a smile The humor is satire often related to what is allowed and not allowed in society but it is not funny because there is nothing new or imaginative Often the humor borders on the slapstick particularly at the story’s end Slapstick bores me I prefer humor that demands that one thinks This is not what is delivered here Let’s look at the plot The book is an epistolary novel We learn about Evelina through letters the letters she sends and those she receives all sent in one year from April to October We learn about Evelina and her family and the uestion is who will make up “her family” in the future and obviously whom she will marry The plot is predictable The telling is melodramatic It is sentimental It is a retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale made unnecessarily long and convoluted I prefer the shorter original Evelina could easily be cut in half The prose style is florid Super wordy It takes a whole page to say one thing You might think the writing is long because it is supposed to sound lyrical and pretty It isn’t The characters are black and white cardboard figures Beautiful Evelina is so darn sweet wonderful and perfect I prefer complicated messy people—people who are realDid I give the book up when I discovered I disliked the audiobook narration? NO I did not Seriously I wanted to give Frances Burney’s written words a real try The audiobook has three narrators Finty Williams Dame Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer The latter two read well very well I have no complaints whatsoever regarding their performance It is Finty Williams’ narration that gives me trouble and unfortunately she reads much than the other two She reads Evelina's letters Williams dramatizes and in a fashion I vehemently dislike She reads too uickly her French is poor and worst of all is how she renders conversations She intones the different characters in a manner making it difficult to distinguish who says what Male and female characters sound exactly the same Her voice is that of a young girl The exception is when she mimics a laugh her laughs are extremely loud throaty and boisterous When she laughs I cringe Much of the time Finty Williams’ voice is unpleasantly shrill I have given the narration one star because it is Williams who reads most of the book and her narration I do not likeI wanted to like this but I don’t If you don’t test different types of writing you don’t know what you might end up liking I will soon be trying Georgian novels I am hoping I will like them


  6. says:

    Written 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 bewareA major piece of the plot is that Evelina a young girl only just out into society receives the following noteTo Miss AnvilleWith transport most charming of thy sex did I read the letterwith which you yesterday morning favoured me I am sorry theaffair of the carriage should have given you any concernbut I am highly flattered by the anxiety you express sokindly Believe me my lovely girl I am truly sensibleto the honour of your good opinion and feel myself deeplypenetrated with love and gratitude The correspondence youhave so sweetly commenced I shall be proud of continuing;and I hope the strong sense I have of the favour you do mewill prevent your withdrawing it Assure yourself that Idesire nothing ardently than to pour forth my thanks atyour feet and to offer those vows which are so justly thetribute of your charms and accomplishments In your nextI intreat you to acuaint me how long you shall remain intown The servant whom I shall commission to call for ananswer has orders to ride post with it to me My impatiencefor his arrival will be very great though inferior to thatwith which I burn to tell you in person how much I ammy sweet girl your grateful admirer ORVILLEAfter 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 ” Yeah that’s what I want in a man—feminine delicacy and brotherly love Eew Then she shows the letter to her guardian the miluetoast 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 reuisite You must uit him his sight is baneful to your repose his society is death to your future tranuility 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 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 ARRGHReading 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 89ths 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 inuietude” 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 WeirdOverall 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 femaleFaith and so have I said Mr Coverley; for egad I'd as soon see a woman chop wood as hear her chop logicSo 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 liveIt 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 idiotsHow many enemies my dear Sir does this unbounded severity excite'


  7. says:

    35★This is the oldest work I have ever read by a female writerI 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 situations¾ 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 uite 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 limitedI 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


  8. says:

    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 figuresWhen 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 placeVivid 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 etcAlso 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


  9. says:

    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 spoilerNot 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


  10. says:

    Maybe 35 I did enjoy this but it took me a little while to get into; for me the stronger section was the last uarter 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