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Charlotte Temple

Mrs. Susanna Rowson

Book Overview: 

Charlotte Temple, a cautionary tale for young women, follows the unfortunate adventures of the eponymous heroine as she is seduced by a dashing soldier, Montraville. Influenced by both her lover and an unruly teacher at her boarding school, she is persuaded to run away to America, where she is eventually abandoned by Montraville after he becomes bored, leaving her alone and pregnant.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The levity of the gentlemen and the freedom of their conversation disgusted her. She was astonished at the liberties Mademoiselle permitted them to take; grew thoughtful and uneasy, and heartily wished herself at home again in her own chamber.

Perhaps one cause of that wish might be, an earnest desire to see the contents of the letter which had been put into her hand by Montraville.

Any reader who has the least knowledge of the world, will easily imagine the letter was made up of encomiums on her beauty, and vows of everlasting love and constancy; nor will he be surprised that a heart open to every gentle, generous sentiment, should feel itself warmed by gratitude for a man who professed to feel so much for her; nor is it improbable but her mind might revert to the agreeable person and martial appearance of Montraville.

In affairs of love, a young heart is never in more danger than when attempted by a handsome young soldier. A man of an in. . . Read More

Community Reviews

All the morality of Jane Austen without any of the fun, Fantine without all the wonderful singing. Vanity Fair lite...triple ugh. Dear Reader, I've decided I loathe being talked to directly by the narrator.

Alas and alack! I have been a writer too long. I read a work like this, and instead of seeing it as a period piece all I can see is how it should have been written, better. Move the heroine's problems to the fore. Do not lade the beginning with flashbacks -- her grandparents, her parents, her Fre...more

I liked this book for several reasons. One, it was the first novel to become an American best-seller. Two, written by a woman who was also a writer of plays, music, textbooks. She was an actress and an educator. At one point, she was the main breadwinner in her family, which her husband approved...more

this book is baaaaaad. it is melodramatic and sentimental and full of woe is me and what shall i do and beseeching and fainting and fits and inexplicable deaths. i want montambo to read it because of all the people herein who are faced with unpleasantness, fall into a fit, and die. i want a docto...more

I'm rating this book based on historical context and for entertainment value. It's a really hilarious, melodramatic book with an absurd and sensational story about a young woman who falls into vice (basically, in the words of Coach from Mean Girls, "Don't have sex. You will get pregnant. And die....more


This was the first book I read for college, and the first school-assigned book that I finished on time since the 9th grade. Therefore, I feel justly proud. I kept up with a reading schedule! For a book published in 1795 that would normally take me 5 months to read despite its sho...more

Often called America's first bestseller, Charlotte Temple (1791) is a short didactic novel of primarily historical interest. In this, it is similar to Hannah Webster Foster's The Coquette; both short novels urge their young female readers against corrupting entanglements with men and against extr...more

Charlotte Temple is the first bestseller published in the United States, and thus an important read for anyone interested in American literature and/or print culture. This novel is very short--a novella, technically--and has a very melodramatic, over-the-top plot. It's basically an early conduct...more

Well, I'm back to reading books for a college class. And this is the first thing I had to read this term? Ugh. Sometimes the life of an English major isn't quite so glamorous.

I will say that while I didn't love this book (written in the late 1700s), I didn't hate it either. Once you get past the...more

In every lit class, there comes an awkward moment when the professor has just assigned a reading he or she is unsure about. The students are already packing up, and the professor is doubting the quality of the assigned work. And so, just as the students are heading out to lunch, the professor cas...more

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