The Absentee
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The Absentee

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  625 ratings  ·  28 reviews
The novel revolves around the lives of the Irish landlords who have left their native land and settled in England. From the green pastures of Ireland to the saloons of England, the novel focuses on politics and prejudices of the people of different nationalities and classes. It is a thorough commentary on the politics that transpired amongst the landed gentry of Ireland.
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Published January 1st 2006 by ReadHowYouWant (first published 1811)
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Melissa Lenhardt
Full Review: http://wp.me/pns82-145

Maria Edgeworth was a popular author in the early 19th century that has almost been forgotten today. I never heard of her before I saw this Penguin edition at the used book store. Intrigued by a story focusing on the Anglo/Irish aspect of Regency life and bought it. Plus, I liked the cover.

Edgeworth did not like novels, she thought they were frivolous, and instead called her stories “moral tales.” While she does deal more directly with the lower class than Aust...more
Zab
You have to love Maria Edgeworth! Ok, you don't have to, but I do. She's definitely leading the running for Most Middle-Class Novelist Ever, but in a good way. It's amazing how reassuring it is to know that, in addition to true love conquering all, the lovers are going to turn out to be rational beings who enjoy reading, thinking, and learning, and who avoid the temptations to gambling, living beyond their means, and bad estate management.

If you love Wuthering Heights, you sure won't love The Ab...more
Trisha
I am really torn with how I feel about this novel. It started out incredibly slow and the "old" language made it difficult to read. The pace of the book never really picked up, and there were many times where I considered abandoning the book, but there was something about the storyline, or maybe the concept itself, that kept me reading.
The fact that the father would become an absentee lord in Ireland, just so that his wife could have the fashion and society of London was crazy! The wife was cons...more
Jimmy Burns
Edgeworth was known as 'The Voice of Ireland' and this book was an attempt to bring the plight of ordinary Irish people to a wider audience. The title refers to the role played by largely English landowners in Ireland who were ready to take their income from their privileged position and leave the running of their estates in the hands of unscrupulous managers.

The novel takes the form of the son of an absentee landord undertaking an odyssey through his native country and finding for himself the a...more
Gregg
Here's a great little volume written by one of Jane Austen's contemporaries, a prolific author for whom Austen herself had much admiration. If the novel's subject matter - the social impact of absentee landlords on rural Ireland - gives you pause, then fret not. I too worried that I would not be able to follow such a specific (and now forgotten) social issue, but that proved not to be the case at all. Indeed, Edgeworth assumes zero knowledge on the part of the reader, weaving her subject into an...more
Abigail Rieley
I read The Absentee as research so I'm not really in a position to comment on how the book ranks as entertainment. That said, I enjoyed this tale of absentee landlords, unscrupulous agents, scurrilous businessmen, stained reputations and rather improbable coincidences. This is an honestly political book and Maria Edgeworth makes her views of absenteeism absolutely plain. It is a landlord's duty, she suggests, to guide their simple tenants to a virtuous and industrious existence and not to beggar...more
Ian
This could be crudely and cruelly summed up as a second-rate Jane Austen with a bit of added social commentary. The story is indeed a romance and Edgeworth does not have Austen's lightness of touch or sense of pace in her writing. The social commentary is both a condemnation of absentee landlords from Irish estates, bleeding the locals to fund their brash London socialite lifestyle, and a critique of the shallowness of that very snobbish society. Interesting moral slant on marriage appears: our...more
Diane
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nakita
Reading this book was like meeting a person from another country. I spent the first few chapters getting used to the cultural nuances, language, turns of phrase and other details that I assume we're the norm 200 years ago when sources say this book was first published.

After the initial difficulty, I could appreciate the story. And a really good story it was with no points dragged out, suspense and a good dose of humour ('pon honour).

There are only two points that prevent me from giving it the h...more
Rick F.
WONDERFUL STORY OF THE AFFECTS OF IRISH ARISTROCRATS WHO ABANDON THEIR HOMES IN IRELAND TO MOVE TO LONDON. SUPER CHARACTERS AND ENDING
Maria
I needed to find a book whose author shared either my first name or last name. Since it's highly unlikely I'll find a book on FreeBooks that shares my last name, I found this one, by Maria Edgeworth.

The interesting thing about this book is that it was published in the same year as Sense and Sensibility. And yet they're different. This book focuses on Lord Colambre, who is an absentee from Ireland. He's not yet of age, he's in love with his cousin, Grace Nugent, and he's hoping to marry her once...more
Johnny Waco
The back of the book assures me that Edgeworth "influenced writers as disparate as Scott, Thackery, and Turgenev." All apologies to those gentlemen, but they certainly must have had the chimerical ability to produce gold from lead, if The Absentee is truly representative of Edgeworth's work. The story held promise enough--the son of an Irish nobleman who had relocated his family to London years before and continued to live upon the income of his estate back home decides to travel incognito to th...more
Meghan Krogh
How did this book turn out to be so good??? The first two thirds were abysmal and then suddenly: plot! Action! Dialogue!

So, for someone who studied Romantic and Victorian-era British literature I was pretty shamefully unaware of this novel until I added it to the Class list. I saw some comparisons online to Jane Austen’s work, so I was rather disappointed that the majority of the action of the book is the dull traversing of 17-year-old Lord Colambre, whose wastrel absentee parents have neglecte...more
Aileen
Young Lord Colambre sees that Lady Clonbrony, his mother's attempts to get into London society are being ridiculed behind her back, and putting his father ever deeper into debt. He travels to Dublin then incognito onto his father's Irish estates which are being run by agents on behalf of the absentee landlord. The first estate he visits is well run by a kindly agent, but the second and largest is in ruin, in the hands of an unscrupulous villain who thinks nothing of putting the tenants' rent up...more
Dara Salley
“The Absentee” is a forgettable book. There’s nothing terribly wrong with it and it’s mildly entertaining, but it doesn’t leave much of an impression. The main issue is the protagonist, Lord Clonbrony. He’s such a nice, smart, kind young man that I sort of wanted to punch him in the face. It’s very obvious that the reader is supposed to be on his side and root for him. It’s so obvious that it made me turn against him.

There are a few interesting aspects of the novel. Edgeworth captures the hilari...more
Gareth Evans
Quite a hard book to review. It's difficult to review by the standards of modern morality (especially regarding class and the role of women - don't marry a women whose mother is not virtuous). It's difficult to know how much is satire and how much is close to normal social practice. It's a long while since I read any Smollet, but this reminds me of Smollet toned down a bit and moved a little up in the hierarchy. It's certainly an enjoyable if relatively predictable read.
Jennifer
I absolutely loved this book. The characters were rich and fell all along the lines of moral compass. The story was well-handled and though written, at times, in an odd manner, it may have been the fashion at the time. There was a good bit of foreign phrasing in the tale, but it was handled well enough with google's translate.
Jennifer
An unusual 19th century Irish novel in that the absentee landowners referred to in the title are not heartless Brits, but upper-class Irish Lords who have moved away from their family estate to the more fashionable society of England. As is common in novels of this type, the lives of the peasants become intolerable from the corruption and general lack of management over the estate. The young Lord, son of the Absentee couple, returns to Ireland in disguise. After an unnecessary 100 extra pages, e...more
Morgan
I just finished this novel for a college course studying Irish novels. I found it very similar to novels by Jane Austen, who, turns out, to be a contemporary of Edgeworth.

This novel is full of social realism and social criticism as well, which makes it an interesting read. The characters are interesting and they drive the plot forward. It is interesting to see how the characters are affected by Irish and English society and how they in turn react to the pressures of society.
Nancy
Meh. Needed to read this for my book group. Good points - it was a fast read - I learned a little bit about absentee Irish landlords. Otherwise it was an annoying read. Copious unnecessary notes. Once I learned to ignore them, the reading process went a bit more pleasantly. Her style of emphasizing oddly accented dialogue was very annoying. The wrap-up of the story was as expected. This could have been written by a 12-13 year old who had a political agenda.
Erin
Another one sadly added to "couldn't finish." I tried a few chapters but this book just could not catch my attention. It took me way too long to read those chapters, and I was annoyed by the characters and bored. I supposed it might get better towards the middle of the book according to some of the other reviews, but I didn't want to waste anymore time struggling to get to a point where it might be good.
Philip Lane
Social conscience novel with a standard upper-class romance as a cover. Well written and interesting the story carried me along. It was generally very believable apart from the not so subtle revelations about the heroine's family origins. I don't understand why Maria Edgeworth is not more widely known.
Wendy
Wasn't expecting this to be as good as it was...but I really enjoyed this simple tale of a family that lives in England but have lands in Ireland...set in the early/mid 19th century. Not really a mind bender, but it was well written and enjoyable.
Karin
Had to let this one go on page 72.The subject of Irish nobility living away from their estates in London,for whatever reasons,requires more historical knowledge of the situation in the 1800s there than I have to appreciate the story.
Marisa Iglesias
It's entertaining and an easy read, but it follows a pattern I've read one-to-many times: the villainous Jewish man, the noble hero everyone admires, and, of course, the virtuous heroine.
MaryBliss
Classic early 19th century English "regional novel". I enjoyed it. The endnotes in the Penguin Classics edition were quite helpful as well.
Lady Wesley
Touching story about the evils of absentee landlords in 19th century Ireland.
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Edgeworth was an Anglo-Irish gentry-woman, born in Oxfordshire and later resettling in County Longford. She eventually took over the management of her father's estate in Ireland and dedicated herself to writing novels that encouraged the kind treatment of Irish tenants and the poor by their landlords.
More about Maria Edgeworth...
Belinda Castle Rackrent Castle Rackrent and Ennui Ormond Harrington

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“Remember, we can judge better by the conduct of people towards others than by their manner towards ourselves.” 12 likes
“but don't you know that girls never think of what they are talking about, or rather never talk of what they are thinking about? And they have always ten times more to say to the man they don't care for, than to him they do.” 0 likes
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