Evelina -- A Perfect Novel of Romance from 1778
A fabulous book that is funny and sweet!
When the United States was only 3 years old, Fanny Burney published her first novel "Evelina". It is a beautiful masterpiece and a very enjoyable book to read.
The story tells the tale of Evelina, who is invited to live in the big city (London) after having grown up the country. She is educated, beautiful, and wealthy.
However, even over 200 years ago cities allowed greed, crime, and lust to blossom and grow. Evelina is a charming girl and for a while the local noblemen can't decide if she is the most eligible young lady of the season, or some silly country bumpkin.
Some dishonest men saw marriage to a wealthy woman as "the only way out" of serious gambling debts. Will someone take advantage of Evelina's trusting heart?? Or will she find her true love?
In many ways, Evelina is a modern girl. She has a lot of common sense and believes in the goodness of people. This can get her into trouble though!
Once while she was walking in the park, she got separated from her friends. This would normally not be a problem, but then a group of rough guys approach her and she is frightened. She begs for help from some women who are walking by, asking their permission to join them (there is safety in numbers).
During this time of distress, Evelina was happy to find any female company at all. When she emerges from the walkway, she is relieved to find her friends. But not before her secret crush walks by -- he later informs her that she was walking with 2 prostitutes!!
Since he walked by so quickly, there was no time to explain that these "ladies of the evening" are not her friends but rather are her rescuers! Back in the 1700's having a good reputation was so important! Even being seen with the wrong people for just a few minutes could lead to serious doubts about one's character!
Will true love survive the perils of London?? I'm not going to tell, but here is one hint. You can think of "Evelina" as a "Cinderella story", but it's even better than that. While Cinderella is rather bland, Evelina is cool! The book is really funny and Evelina does a great job of sizing people up.
I give this book a 10 out of 10. It is one of my favorites and reading it is time well spent indeed!
Here are some interesting facts about the author. Fanny Burney became very famous after "Evelina" was published. She wrote several more novels and was quite a celebrity in her day. Her true passion was to write plays for the theatre, but her father felt that doing so would damage her reputation -- he wanted her to write novels because that was more respectable.
She was one of the first women authors to make a living off her writing. At the age of 42 she married a Frenchman and became known as Madame d'Arblay. After her marriage, she continued writing and lived in France for many years.
It's amazing to me that only 220 years ago it was "unfit" for women to write plays. Back then, the theatre was something that rich people paid to see and poor people performed. Sometimes just telling your story becomes a political act! The theme of "Evelina" has been used many times before, but the story is told so well that it seems brand new. The characters seem like real people -- and there are quite a few of them!
So to all the aspiring writers out there -- reading good books will make you a better writer!! And just by telling your truth and your dreams and your ideas, you are changing the world.
A photo of the author
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More Info About Evelina
This is the one I read.