The Classics: Evelina by Frances Burney

             Frances Burney's first and most enduringly popular novel is a vivid, satirical, and seductive account of the pleasures and dangers of fashionable life in late eighteenth-century London. As she describes her heroine's entry into society, womanhood and, inevitably, love, Burney exposes the vulnerability of female innocence in an image-conscious and often cruel world where social snobbery and sexual aggression are played out in the public arenas of pleasure-gardens, theatre visits, and balls. But Evelina's innocence also makes her a shrewd commentator on the excesses and absurdities of manners and social ambitions--as well as attracting the attention of the eminently eligible Lord Orville.
            "Evelina", comic and shrewd, is at once a guide to fashionable London, a satirical attack on the new consumerism, an investigation of women's position in the late eighteenth century, and a love story. 

          I looked for and bought this book, because i read somewhere that Frances Burney was the author that chiefly influenced Jane Austen's writing. Indeed I found this to be true while i was reading. But, on top of it all, I loved this book for itself. And in some aspects, even more than Jane Austen's books, if it is possible.
         First of all it is all written in the form of letters, so there was little or no (tiresome to me) descriptions of places and scenery, etc. Second, it was so sweetly and passionately romantic, that it surpassed even Elisabeth and Darcy's story! (only in some ways only, of course. There can be no other Mr. Darcy). If you have read some of my reviews you must know by now that I love the hero being tender and protective and caring (who doesn't?). Lord Orville is like that. Of course, in some ways he is quite the opposite of Mr. Darcy. He is always trying to put everyone at their ease, especially our heroine, who is something of a country mouse. He is about the only one who does not look down on her. I thought he was quite a rare specimen for a man -for all ages.
         The book is also full of satire, humour, adventure, damsels in distress being rescued.... everything you would expect from a classical as well as from a modern historical novel, sprinkled with subtle social criticism and filled with the most realistic and sparkling characters. I really didn't want it to end, but thankfully, I can reread it as many times I want (and I will).
         For a while, after finishing this book, everything else I tried to read seemed insipid. If you read it, I hope you'll see what i mean.

Rating 5/5
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