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Evelina

Fanny Burney

Book Overview: 

In this epistolary novel, we find a young woman named Evelina, who was raised in rural seclusion until her eighteenth year because of her uncertain parentage. Through a series of harrowing and humorous events that take place in London and an English resort town, Evelina learns how to navigate the complex layers of 18th century society and earn the love of a distinguished and honorable nobleman.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .And so you've been here all this time, and don't know what the play was?"

"Why, really Sir, a play requires so much attention,-it is scarce possible to keep awake if one listens;-for, indeed, by the time it is evening, one has been so fatigued with dining,-or wine,-or the house,-or studying,-that it is-it is perfectly an impossibility. But, now I think of it, I believe I have a bill in my pocket; O, ay, here it is-Love for Love, ay,-true, ha, ha!-how could I be so stupid!"

"O, easily enough, as to that, I warrant you," said the Captain; "but, by my soul, this is one of the best jokes I ever heard!-Come to a play, and not know what it is!-Why, I suppose you wouldn't have found it out, if they had fob'd you off with a scraping of fiddlers, or an opera?-Ha, ha, ha!-Why, now, I should have thought you might have taken some notice of one Mr. Tattle, that is in this play!"

This sarcasm, which caused a general smi. . . Read More

Community Reviews

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 se

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 almos

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 b

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

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 go

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

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. Th

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 bu

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 Eveli

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 physic (hide spoiler)]

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