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Tales and Novels (V10, Helen)

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  140 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
She was the bestselling author of Regency England. Admired by Jane Austen whose fame she eclipsed and dubbed ‘Our Great Maria’ by Sir Walter Scott. John Ruskin declared her work, ‘The most re-readable in existence’. Isn’t it time we started reading Maria Edgeworth?

Written in 1834, Helen was the last and most psychologically powerful of Edgeworth’s novels.

Newly orphaned Hel
Published by (first published 1834)
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Julie Wake
Dec 07, 2011 Julie Wake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really super book. Apparently she was Jane Austen's greatest rival at the time, but she is obviously nowhere near as popular these days.
The book has similarites to Austen but is slightly racier (!) and really does involve you in the lives of the characters.
Aug 27, 2012 Marija rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Helen is the kind of novel where one should not focus on plot. In truth, the plot is very silly; but what redeems this novel is Edgeworth’s character studies—the social and emotional impact on deception and concealment. It is truly amazing how something so insignificant and trivial—school girl deceptions and concealment—can be blown out of proportion, on the brink of becoming a social nightmare for all involved. This is the most interesting part of the novel, and I can easily understand why auth ...more
Alison Evans
This book tells the story of the virtuous, beautiful Helen whose devoted uncle guardian dies, leaving her nothing but debts. She then goes to live with Cecilia, now happily married to a rather strait laced husband. Before she married him, she told him a white lie about her previous boyfriend, and after some incriminating letters appear, she persuades Helen to take the blame for the letters. Although Cecilia promises to tell her husband the truth, she always finds some reason not to do so just th ...more
Virginia Papandrea
As others have noted, Maria Edgeworth was one of the most popular and esteemed authors of her time. Roughly a contemporary of Jane Austen, she wrote along simiar lines, i.e., novels of domestic affairs rather than of larger social movements or "great" events such as wars. Her strength is in her exploration and development of character and a style that remains quite readable nearly 200 years later. I would agree with others' observations, however, that the moralistic tone, drawn-out agonizing (wi ...more
Jul 22, 2014 Susan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Miserable. I began this book because I read that Maria Edgeworth was a contemporary of Jane Austin and was exponentially more popular in her time. It is not poorly written but the humorless agony the characters experience goes on for far longer than I can stomach. Helen is the last book Edgeworth wrote and is alledgedly free of moralizing. Instead the characters stop every two pages to deliver long lectures about how to be really racist, or the proper place for women, or how to be horrid to pers ...more
Mar 09, 2013 Fran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 29, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, read-again
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Maria Edgeworth’s novel “Helen”. To me Helen seemed to be a novel about lying. The small, little lies we tell and how destructive even they can be. The heroine of the novel, Helen Stanley, is orphaned and goes to live with her dearest friend, Lady Cecelia Clarendon and her husband. Cecelia is a sweet, charming girl; but she has the habit of telling small seemingly harmless lies, that build up and destroy her relationships and her marriage.

Now I did enjoy the novel, b
May 05, 2016 Katja rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
If you've never read any Edgeworth but are keen to give her a go (maybe you read that she was Jane Austen's greatest competitor?) - then Helen is a good place to start! It's a fairly late book in the author's career, which means that she is less didactic, and more concerned with nuanced characterization, than in earlier books like 'Patronage' and 'Belinda'. 'Helen' also contains an extraordinary portrait of an unrepentant (for the most part) career woman, who chose political influence over mothe ...more
Oct 21, 2015 Elsa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I went through every agonising emotion that the author intended for the reader. I went through the second half of the book very quickly as I was so unsure how it all would end.
I found the characters portrayed very well and I believe that they are very relevant to the present day. I thought that the publishing of the love letters is a very similar thing to leaked photos and the malicious use of images in our modern day way of slandering.
All in all a good book despite the frustration thr
A few nice tidbits supremely weighed down by almost unbearable tedium. Made it through 63% and just can't take it anymore.

I'm sorry Miss Maria, if you had stuck to the story rather than the social commentary I may have continued on. Lady Davenant ad nauseum.
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
There is much to recommend this, including the invigorating common sense of Edgeworth's writing about women and marriage and honesty. But there is plenty of baggy histrionics to bulk out the paper thin plot over 500 pages and the ending is full on emotional excess.
Alba Türme
Aug 16, 2010 Alba Türme marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I was really looking forward to read it but now that I got it from the post office I have to say that the cover is really off-putting and nothing to do with the image I have of Maria Edgeworth (I'm writing my dissertation about her) so, even though I don't like to judge a book by its cover, this time I have to say that this cover gives a wrong impression of this novelist... I'm disappointed with this sentimentalistic image at the front! It has nothing to do with the hidden polemist and proto-fem ...more
Apr 13, 2016 Mady marked it as wishlist  ·  review of another edition
Amazon recommendation (contemporary of Jane Austen)
Nov 01, 2008 Ahf rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved the moral and writing and wit in this story. All books should offer so much. I started to read slowly because I didn't want it to end.
Apr 30, 2015 Ellie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
2.5 stars
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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...

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“When people are warm, they cannot stand picking terms.” 2 likes
“said Lady Davenant.” 0 likes
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