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Cecilia, Or, Memoirs Of An Heiress

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  2,007 ratings  ·  79 reviews
This novel is an unusual and disturbing love-story. In playing on the issue of the heroine's name, the novel illustrates the high cost of a patriarchal system. Burney exhibits her powers as a comic writer and a satirist in depicting Cecilia's dismaying entry into the gilded fashionable world. This edition presents 'Cecilia' as it first appeared in 1782, indicating changes ...more
Paperback, 919 pages
Published (first published 1782)
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Wealhtheow
Cecilia Beverly is a young orphan whose relatives left her with a large fortune, three quarelling trustees, and a mind of unsurpassed delicacy and gentility. The first volume is set during the tumultuous time Cecilia spent with one trustee, who "borrows" huge sums of money from her and eventually kills himself to avoid his debts. Cecilia moves back the country, but her Love Interest, a man of good character but very proud parents, follows her there and begs her to marry him. ALAS! According to h ...more
Dangermousie
I happen to love this book more than the combined works of Jane Austen (blasphemy, I know). While lacking Austen's sparkling style, I find this book has emotional connection and focus on social issues than I find lacking in Austen's works. It's probably my favorite 18th century novel, in fact.

The story revolves around Cecilia, a young woman who has inherited an enormous fortune but who can keep it only if, upon marriage, her husband agrees to take her name. Unfortunately, Cecilia has fallen for
...more
Emily
One might think Cecelia would be right up my alley. I love social commentary with a healthy dash of romance, I enjoyed Burney's Evelina and I've reread Austen too many times so it was time to branch out. I really cannot recommend this book to anyone. I read the unabridged version, being a snob, and it was somewhere around 950 pages long. I read the first four hundred or so then decided I couldn't take reading about her vicissitudes and skipped to the last 100 pages. I have never done this before ...more
Lynne-marie
Feb 06, 2010 Lynne-marie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Barbara McIntire or any JA fan
I was interested to know what Jane Austen was reading that moved her to be an author, and this surely must have made an impression on her because it is pretty clear in the ending where PRIDE and PREJUDICE are mention three times in a row within a short space in an editorial diatribe, that they furnished the eventual name of one of her best known novels. Of this novel, itself, I may say that it gave me more insight into what the state of literature was like at the time JA was writing -- one heart ...more
Jaylia3
Though her parents and the uncle who raised her have died, life should be almost perfect for open-hearted Cecilia. She has inherited enough money to be independent and to live the life that is her ideal, righting wrongs and helping the less privileged. Unfortunately, anything in this long book that could go awry does. Cecelia is not quite 21, and until she is of age she needs to reside with one of the guardians her uncle has carefully but misguidedly chosen. The first guardian, the husband of a ...more
Alice
J'ai d'abord apprécié de me replonger dans les délices de l'Angleterre du 18ème siècle et suivre la jeune héritière Cecilia dans ses péripéties. A la fin du premier tome, j'aurais pu dire que sans retrouver l'esprit de Jane Austen, j'avais passé un agréable moment... Mais à la fin du troisième et après plus de 1000 pages de récit qui se répète et qui n'avance pas, mon desespoir me fait porter un jugement bien plus sévère sur cette oeuvre!

Tout d'abord, inutile de chercher la finesse de Jane, ni
...more
Verity Brown
Jun 14, 2012 Verity Brown rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jane Austen fans
I read Evelina for a class back in college, and I found it amusing enough (although not as amusing as The Female Quixote: Or the Adventures of Arabella, which was my favorite book from that class). But I developed a taste for the literature of that era, and I've been wanting to read more by Fanny Burney.

I was delighted to find that this book was better written than Evelina. And I was amazed to discover the very real influence of this book on Jane Austen. Admittedly, Austen far exceeded Burney in
...more
Krisette Spangler
Wow, when I started this tome I didn't realize it had 1000 pages. I orginally picked it up, because I knew that Jane Austen liked reading Fanny Burney's novels. This was the closest I've ever come to another Jane Austen novel. However, I will say that Austen masterfully completes in approximately 300 pages what it took Burney 1000 pages to do.

Burney has created some amazing characters in this novel, and the story is very good. However, I did alternate between loving it and wanting to tear my hai
...more
Philip Lane
Very interesting. I'm not sure how to reconcile Cecilia's uncle's provisions in his will and apponed guardians. From a singularly bad piece of judgement her whole catalogue of woes follow. Her relationship with the son of one of her guardians is the central romantic story which bears a strong resemblance to the central romance in Pride and Prejudice and indeed the labelling of the characters with these qualities is made towards the end of the book. Jane Austen presumably got the idea from here.
A
...more
Rebecca
Tis great fun. Relentlessly plagiarised by Austen. Although, malice 'n' insularity are Jane's own work. Credit where credit's due. :p Towards the end, one of the characters even proclaims:
"The whole of this unfortunate business has been the result of PRIDE and PREJUDICE." (Burney's capitalisation, not mine.)

Anyway... 1780s heiress must get husband to take her name. Complications ensue. Influential on Dickens, too. Georgian society depicted in entirety.

*covets flouncy frocks*

*points and laughs a
...more
Elle Murr
My interest was kindled in this book when I heard it had inspired Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. But I must admit that I lost interest very quickly in the first few chapters. The wording was so archaic, I could barely understand what was going on. But I persisted, and by about chapter 5 I was hooked.

Burney's style reminds me of Thomas Hardy in that it is very dramatic, tragic and frustrating. But these same elements also make it thoroughly absorbing and moving! I fell in love with the hero
...more
Rachel
Oh, FAN-FAN. You had me utterly convinced - enthralled - enchanted - for a whole five hundred pages, lady! That's two books in modern-day terms! So why the four hundred further pages of CRAP? Didn't you realise the interesting characters were: Mr Harrel, Mr Gosport, Miss Larolles and Lady Honoria? Even Mr Meadows beat Albany in terms of interest by about five million and twelve to one, and the whole point of his life was to be uninteresting. Once they all ... vanished, wtf, and we were left to s ...more
Steven
It was hard to read this book without thinking of Jane Austen. This book had a big influence on Austen and her writing. There are parallels between several of her characters in Pride and Prejudice and the characters in Cecilia. I also found it interesting that near the end of the book the phrase "Pride and Prejudice" is used three times within a couple of sentences. I am looking forward to reading more of Burney's novels.
Andrea Lundgren
I would not recommend it save for those who wish to gain a fresh understanding and appreciation for Jane Austen by reading one of her predecessors and seeing how Burney handles characters who are similar to some of those in Austen's books.

The book was well written, but I felt the character of Cecilia was inconsistent--she goes from having self-command and the ready wit of an Elizabeth Bennett to being as flustered and bashful as Fanny Price. The characters were interesting, but rather wordy and
...more
Jessica
For its length you would think this would end up being really dry and boring, but Burney makes this book a real page turner (and believe me it has been a long time since a book I had to read for school made me turn pages). I had to stay up until three in the morning to finish the last two hundred pages. The ending is, admittedly, a little bizarre, but the book is still amazing.
Rebecca
I love this book..it's such an agonizing love story, but so good!!! Burney is so good at torturing her reader, then totally delivers in the end!
Vincent Rivas-Flores
I actually cared whether Cecelia lived at the end. I did not expect a book just shy of 1000 pages to do that.
Tamara
I enjoyed this book more than I anticipated. Cecilia is a young heiress who can only receive her fortune if she marries a man who will take her name. Considering the era this is almost insurmountable unless she marries "beneath" her.

The book begins with her still under age and her uncle her guardian has died. He appoints three guardians and she must live with one of the three until her majority, in less than a year. The guardians are caricatures of the family/title proud with insufficient incom
...more
Rozelyn
First of all, this book is enormous. Having said that there are are some perks and pitfalls in that. Ever read a book and think: "I never want this to end!" ? Well this book will definitely help you there. On the other hand some parts felt tedious. Even with lots of morals thrown in about the rich and how they spend their lives and wealth I actually like that it gives a pretty reasonable message. I was expecting a sort of didacticism preaching to give away all her wealth to the poor, but at leas ...more
Tien
My apologies as this will sound like a petty rant but I can't help it...

I want to know what's happened to the DOG!?! A well-loved dog, loyal to his master blah-di-blah-blah... used as instrument of discovery and then dropped into the ether, never to be heard of again! I did mention this was going to be petty, didn't I? Gah!

I like that Cecelia was meant to be sensible, virtuous, and all that is kind and good. You can hear a 'but', can't you BUT BUT BUT why does she need to shed so much tears? Exp
...more
kingshearte
If you like Jane Austen, why not read one of her inspirations — specifically the book where she got the title for Pride and Prejudice? It does read very similar to Austen, except perhaps a bit wordier. I don't think any of the Austen I've read has been quite as long as this one. And at 888 pages in the edition I read, I really did think it was too long. Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy it, because I did. But there were definitely parts that could have been trimmed. Some parts were very re ...more
Laura
“O yes, he will make the prettiest husband in the world; you may fly about yourself as wild as a lark, and keep him the whole time as tame as a jack-daw: and though he may complain of you to your friends, he will never have the courage to find fault to your face. But as to Mortimer, you will not be able to govern him as long as you live; for the moment you have put him upon the fret, you’ll fall into the dumps yourself, hold out your hand to him, and, losing the opportunity of gaining some mater ...more
Lane
I don’t have the endurance to finish this novel.

But what happens to all of Cecilia’s MONEY? Who does she MARRY?

Luckily, everything we need to know is revealed by the hundredth page. What happens in the other 900 pages, you ask? WELL.

Masquerade scenes. Evil suitors grabbing at Cecilia’s money. Scandal. Drawing room scenes. Discussions of aforementioned masquerade scenes. Moral outrage. Repeat.

Cecilia’s coming of age story in a world of social plotting and excess would have been all good and w
...more
Nicholas Ennos
Cecilia is of course famous for providing the title to Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and it is a novel with a very similar theme, of a potential husband being humbled by the lively personality of his lover.

There are amusing characters, such as the miserly Mr Briggs, the villain Mr Monckton, whose elderly wife refuses to die, and especially Lady Honoria Pemberton, an amusing young lady who always says what she thinks, and whose surname combined with the surname of the heroine, Cecilia Bever
...more
Erin
Impossible to rate this on a modern scale-- this isn't a novel, this is what they had in the late 18th century had instead of soap operas. Or the Kardashians. The language is fascinating & completely impossible to enjoy without puzzling out the meaning from the repetitions. I skimmed a great deal, so feel free to ignore my comments. There are a lot of other things I'd rather read & the end is somewhat like circling a drain where the lead character is inexplicably cycled through odd confl ...more
France-Andrée
What attracted me to reading Fanny Burney is that she was the favorite author of Jane Austen and since I have read all by Jane Austen, I surmised I would like Fanny Burney's writings. I really enjoyed this, but I don't think Cecilia is as good as Pride and Prejudice, I have read P&P was inspired by Evelina, but the title has to come from the ending of Cecilia since the expression is used more than once.

Cecilia is the journey of an heiress in a world she is ill made for. I really enjoyed the
...more
Pamela
Do you love pages and pages of people saying things like, "O! My beloved one! But ah! What shall I do? Must we be parted for ever?" and then collapsing into fits of passion? Then you'll love Cecilia!

Okay, quick rundown: Cecilia is an heiress who will get the bulk of her estate provided that should she marry, her husband take her last name. An neighbor of hers, Mr. Monckton, who rashly married an older woman in order to get her money, has been plotting to marry Cecilia for a long time, providing
...more
Maggie
Cecilia's entire worth in the novel comes from her status as an heiress. London society is reduced (accurately portrayed as?) to a value economy where money is social status. I'd like to write a paper on the ironic requirement that a woman take her position in society from her money and yet that she also hand it over to a man on marriage. Or something about the commoditization of Cecilia in the novel.

The line where Jane Austen probably took the title Pride and Prejudice is shortly followed by a
...more
Todd
Reading _Cecilia_, a thousand-page novel by eighteenth-century writer Fanny Burney, is to immerse oneself in English society of the 1780s. Although it took me forever to read the book, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I loved the great eighteenth-century prose style, for one thing. I admired Burney for her intelligence, which shines through every page. The novel is long but the author does not waste words; she is at work advancing her story every minute. The main themes are inherited wealth ...more
Carrie
Definitely paid by the word- but surprisingly readable...

Strange connection between this book and the television show "Happy Endings"; they both use a "hipster" storyline. How wild is that? Separated by 229 years and the characters (not the main characters) in the show could have stepped right out of the pages of the book! Even stranger that I should be reading the book the same week I watch that episode of the show...

The footnotes describing how contemporaries of the author responded to the boo
...more
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Also known as Frances Burney and, after her marriage, as Madame d’Arblay. Frances Burney was a novelist, diarist and playwright. In total, she wrote four novels, eight plays, one biography and twenty volumes of journals and letters.
More about Fanny Burney...
Evelina Camilla The Wanderer: or, Female Difficulties Journals and Letters The Witlings and the Woman-Hater

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