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The Wanderer - Volume 4

Fanny Burney

Book Overview: 

This is the fourth and final novel by Fanny Burney, the author of Evelina, Cecilia, and Camilla. "Who is "Miss Ellis?" Why did she board a ship from France to England at the beginning of the French revolution? Anyway, the loss of her purse made this strange "wanderer" dependent upon the charity of some good people and, of course, bad ones. But she always comforts herself by reminding herself that it's better than "what might have been..." This is not only a mystery, not at all. It's also a romance

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .e trimmed stuff dress over her cloaths, that made her look as if she were buried alive, and just the same as a ghost; and she was afraid all was not right; for she had made her help to place what she had called a pallet, for her drawing, upon the altar-table, and it looked just like a coffin; only it was covered over with paper. She had ordered that they should both go to an inn, and return for her, with the chaise, at eight o'clock. Neither of them knew what to make of all this; but so many out of the way things had passed, and nothing had come of them, that, still, they should have done only as they were bid, but that the lackey recollected two loaded pistols, which his lady had made him charge, upon the route, to frighten away robbers, by firing one of them off, she said, if they saw any suspicious persons dodging them: and these, which had been put carefully into the chaise, Golding had seen, in the hand of her mistress, in the church. This gave him such a panic, that . . . Read More

Community Reviews

The Wanderer was Fanny Burney’s last novel, and, in my opinion, her magnum opus. It was published in 1814, years after her third novel, Camilla (1796). She had started it soon after Camilla, but it was set aside when she turned to plays in order to earn more money to support her family.

There are...more

A mysterious woman travels from France to England during the French revolution. She relies on random acquaintences to support her once she gets there, but refuses to tell anyone her name, who she is or anything about her. The point: who in "good society" would be willing to help a nameless woman...more

This is the last novel Frances Burney wrote and, for some reason, the only one not currently in print which I think is a shame because for me this is the strongest of her novels (although not necessarily the easiest to read).

Published in 1814 (the same year as Jane Austen's Mansfield Park) but w...more

Burney's contemporaries criticized this book for its unwomanly interest in international and domestic affairs: she not only draws an unflattering portrait of cultured middle-class hypocrisy in England, but also meditates on the particularly vulnerable position of women under a tyrannical governme...more

Fanny Burney’s last novel, The Wanderer, or Female Difficulties was published in 1814, the same year as Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, and Walter Scott’s Waverley. I think it’s fair to say that it has not stood the test of time quite as well as its year-mates. It’s a consummate example of a “loose...more

Reviewing fiction is always a little intimidating to me. After years of reading and writing non-fiction, I have a clear understanding of what I'm looking for and what will benefit others. But I have always read fiction purely for pleasure, and sometimes escape. I don't read it critically, so if I...more

It is the time of the French Revolution, and a lovely young woman is in a pickle. She flees France for England, but is constantly “in the affright of pursuit, and the dismay of being exposed to improper pecuniary obligations.”

This was overly-long and sometimes tedious, but still an interesting ro...more

A gripping, long tale on the order of Clarissa, a book I grieved to finish, and so was happy to find another.

This is quite possibly my favorite novel. Ever. I re-read it all the time. That said, it's my favorite novel for weird reasons. People who are not all that intrigued by eighteenth-century literature by and about women probably won't like this. People who are more interested in the blood and riot...more

Underappreciated. Wonderful depiction of the limited opportunities available to women in late Georgian society. Also, very interesting politically, as Burney engages directly with the French Revolution and its effect on both French and British society. Not as funny as Burney's earlier efforts, bu...more

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