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3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  6,984 ratings  ·  377 reviews
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 so...more
Paperback, 455 pages
Published July 18th 2002 by Oxford University Press (first published 1778)
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Written more than thirty years before Austen’s first novel was published, it concerns eighteenth century society rather than nineteenth century. As such, I found myself constantly at a loss. Before reading this book, I thought I had a good handle on the manners of the period. I know the difference between a barouche, a phaeton, and a curricle, and that a lady would never stand up and leave a conversation, and that men knew classical languages and women, only modern. And yet, I was utterly confus...more

If you think about the heroines in 18th century literature, most of them have a rather arduous time, e.g., Moll Flanders’ hard knock life (Defoe), Clarissa’s determination to endure and persevere (Richardson), Pamela’s dull, methodical virtue (Richardson), or Emily’s inability to understand the floor plan (Radcliffe). In contrast, Evelina's character exudes spontaneity, and the book—particularly set against the darker novels of this age—seems sunny in comparison.

Her novel is a true bildungsroman...more
Shala Howell
I read this because I was curious to know more about the novels Jane Austen herself read. And I must say that while this book has its strong points, its main effect is to increase my respect for how Austen reshaped the novel form. Burney's book is amusing, but the characters seem to be defined almost entirely by a single characteristic. They are either all good or all bad, entirely proper or thoroughly vulgar, fully conscious or fainted dead away. There is little development of character through...more
Sherwood Smith
Jan 25, 2011 Sherwood Smith added it
Shelves: fiction
This reread struck me with just how thin the veneer of civilization is. Burney was in her mid-twenties when she wrote this (and had probably been writing versions of it for ten years); the central romance is very nearly bloodless, Evelina and Lord Orville being such paragons. Their relationships is only interesting when Evelina thinks he wrote her an offensive letter, but one can just make out some human interest in the two when Orville keeps coming across Evelina in the most surprising places....more
Jul 22, 2014 Alex rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
"How in the world can you contrive to pass your time?"
"In a manner which your Lordship will think very extraordinary; for the young lady reads."

First the good news: Evelina is a story about introverts in love, and it has moments that are lovely. I recognized my introverted wife in several passages. Burney has an insightful touch with characterization, and an engaging writing style. Evelina is rarely compelling to read, but it's usually pleasant.

Now for the bad news: unfortunately, the introverts...more
Justin Evans
I'll admit that reading 18th century fiction is sometimes harder than I'd like it to be. The authors either don't know, or just don't abide by, the rules of fiction that we're all used to. But more and more often I'm struck instead by the sheer joy and verve that animates 18th century novels, and that often seems to have gone missing in the twentieth century--and, obviously, this very much the case with Evelina. There's not a whole lot of unity to the tale, and there are plenty of scenes that Bu...more
Bill  Kerwin

This is a very good 18th century epistolary novel. The prose is precise and elegant, the voices of the various letter writers are well delineated and individualized, and the author makes us admire the heroine and fret over the difficulties which obstruct her happiness. The two lovers—the naive Evelina and the elegant Lord Orville—exhibit sentiment and good sense even in the midst of misunderstandings in a way that looks forward to Austen, and the misunderstandings themselves are both credible an...more
I read Evelina for a class examining the British novel. The epistolary nature of this novel makes it an interesting read because everything communicated has already happened. I found the social customs and faux pas' of the era to be somewhat fascinating. The story is both funny and serious, sweet and sour, and happy and sad. It has twists that you would never expect to see. If you enjoy books like Pride and Prejudice, you would extract much enjoyment from Evelina.
In this 18th century novel (and precursor to Jane Austen's novels), the naïve young heroine, who has been raised in relative social isolation, finds herself exposed to the customs of polite English society on a trip to London with friends. She attends plays and operas, and learns proper etiquette for socializing in public through painful interaction (with gentlemen in particular). Unpracticed in maintaining public composure, Evelina laughs at the affected manners and speech of some gentlemen, an...more
Lucinda Elliot
I’ve finally finished this three volume marathon and I wish I could write a more positive review.

I am particularly sorry to write a largely negative one about a woman who wrote one of the first novels which highlight women’s issues, in however limited a fashion, and who so bravely underwent an amputation of the breast in the days before anaesthetics.

However, I do think that these points I make, which I haven’t found elsewhere, need saying.

I started off with high hopes, and if at first the heroin...more
Just started this, and can see already that I don't want to rush it! Written 1778, capturing the manners and concerns of genteel folk, and their wonderfully observant eyes and well-expressed thoughts...Interesting too to explore an important influence on Jane Austen.

Update: finished - and that was time well spent, I do declare! Mirth and merriment in abundance, though much of the humour has a theatrical/farcical quality, rather than the sophisticated or more intellectual kind which some prospect...more
Karly Noelle Abreu
A delightful coming-of-age comedy of manners, Frances Burney's Evelina paved the way for the works of other women writers, such as Jane Austen, to write honestly and humorously about society and relations. This charming story focuses on the innocent young Evelina, who has lived a sheltered life in the country with an honorable old minister. She travels to London for the first time, and finds herself an object of fascination and attention wherever she goes. Told in a series of letters, Evelina he...more
I own both the paperback and the kindle edition of this book, and I have read and rated both.

I had to read this for class, and while we only read the beginning in class, I found that to be so interesting I decided to write my final essay using this book. Now, I kind of wish I hadn't.

The pacing is frantic, and Evelina is always speaking quickly and loudly, even though everything actually happens in letters. Evelina's naïvete that I found so endearing in the beginning grated on my nerves after a w...more
Jan 15, 2008 Summer rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone with a romantic nature
I know the exact date I read this book because right after I finished reading it - aloud, to my boyfriend - we eloped!!! We've been married seven years and while other couples have a song, we have a book...Evelina.
Mar 01, 2013 Lobstergirl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Eric Holder
Shelves: own, fiction

Even though I found Evelina Anville to be a prig on the order of Fanny Price and no less snobbish than Emma Woodhouse, and the virtue and all the appearances related to it required of a girl like Evelina a hideous cage that pained me even from a distance of 235 years, I thoroughly enjoyed this. It was actually hard to put down. Burney is a highly intelligent and sophisticated writer, and brilliantly satirical.

It was fascinating, not having read any of Burney's novels before, to see how heavily A...more
The story is written through several letters, mainly to or from the main character, Evelina. They are written in a lengthy, narrative style and carries the story along solidly from Evelina's viewpoint. Letters to her or about her are only included to pull our heroine back on course, or to give our heroine an opportunity to "dust herself off" before proceeding with her adventures.

Evelina is your classic heroine of the age in which this novel was written. She is stunningly beautiful- so beautiful...more
Nicholas Armstrong
Oh how I love my romantic comedies. I'm sure this has more to it than that, social commentary, gender commentary, etc., whatever, but I like it for the characters, the story, and the comedy. As a comedy, it is a fairly impressive example of blending older comedic styles and tropes, like commedia dell'arte, into contemporary themes of the time, such as sensibility. But that is all beside the point. The point is, the characters are actually crafted rather well, the epistolary form it is written in...more
Sono morta dalle risate leggendo questo libro.

Frances - Fanny - Burney, romanziera georgiana contemporanea - ma più anziana - di Jane Austen, voleva fare la drammaturga. In Evelina la cosa si nota tantissimo, soprattutto la preponderanza dei dialoghi rispetto alla narrazione, i personaggi al limite e forse oltre lo stereotipo, la vena comica marcata (non mi stupisce affatto che Jane Austen leggesse e amasse questa scrittrice).
Ad oggi Evelina forse non regge granché per la trama (soprattutto per...more
Jul 17, 2008 Megan marked it as to-read
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 ball...more
This was a well-written and refreshing book - my explanation for the two stars is that the plot was no great shakes, and even though I liked it, I didn't love it. The thing that makes "Evelina" different from the Austen or Bronte-type novels of manners is, well, rudeness. And it's a relief. It was almost modern at points; where Evelina, stuck with her horrible classless relatives, then runs into some of her more refined acquaintances and wants to sink into the ground with embarrassment? Who can'...more
N.T. Embe [Against GR Censorship]
May 13, 2011 N.T. Embe [Against GR Censorship] rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys romances with plenty of drama, that are far from sappy or ridiculous!
Recommended to N.T. Embe by: Jack Lynch
At last I have finished reading what I fondly call 'my' Evelina! And it was a great read! I dare say I never enjoyed a romance that was so realistic and filled with so many social happenings that were nonetheless enjoyable! Or, at the very least, those which I could endure with good things in mind or the grand humor of other characters to support it. For a book that was written so long ago, it's a fantastically engaging novel for those who love the drama of social circles and romances not swiftl...more
( a 9/10 5 start)

Well that didn't take long, did it? For reasons that you don't really want to know about, I've picked it up at some very odd times of day and have probably kept reading it far longer than I should each time.

I was curious about this but hadn't been expecting to enjoy it, and on reading the dedicatory ode and the note to the publishers et al wondered if I'd survive the experience. However once the story got going and Evelina's letters to her guardian became more relaxed, it was ra...more
a wonderful novel depicting the conflicting ideal of (old-fashioned) sentimental manners and the new entertainment cum worldliness in the late 18th century.
evelina gets leave from her guardian to accompany friends to london and manages to get into one slightly sticky situation after another (mostly brought about by her own innocence - obviously she also is very pretty so she keeps on attracting men like wasps to an ice cream).
it is in three parts, firstly london entertainments with a party of s...more
Anna Mavromati
I was going to give it two stars, because it was "just OK" for the most part. Very typical of an 18th Century British novel written by a woman about an innocent girl who gets married at the end and lives happily ever after...blah blah blah...but THEN there was a random fight with a MONKEY, and I decided that alone was worth another star. Reading through all that boring stuff paid off at the end!

It actually had some really good comedic scenes, especially for its time, and had character developmen...more
Like Jane Austen, but a bit nastier....

Never heard of this book before I was forced to read it for my course, but I'm so glad I did as it's hilarious! Evelina has all the generic plot and wit of a Jane Austen novel, but Burney goes much further in her satirical tone. Burney casts a penetrating insight onto eighteenth century high society through the eyes of the socially innocent Evelina. Raised by a parson in a rural village, the plot follows the virtuous Evelina as she tries to navigate her way...more
"Evelina, the first and best of Fanny Burney's novels, tells the story of a young girl, fresh from the provinces, whose initiation into the ways of the world is frequently painful, though it leads to self-discovery, moral growth, and finally, happiness. Hilarious comedy and moral gravity make the novel a fund of entertainment and wisdom. Out of the graceful shifts from the idyllic to the near-tragic and realistic, Evelina emerges as a fully realized character. And out of its treatment of contras...more
Lee Lacy
I love this book -- certain of Evelina's adventures recalled to me incidents from my own entrance into the world; the joy of finding oneself in society one has admired and now enjoys, and the converse, finding oneself in company with whom even the most minor communication is excruciatingly baffling on all sides.
Again, guys, you are ready to skip over an epistolary novel published in 1778, but you really shouldn't skip. This novel is absolutely unique (so far as I have seen) in its first person,...more
Absolutely Hilarious!

It is hard to imagine though how such a 'perfect' gentleman as Lord Orville exists! Even Mr. Darcy & Mr. Thornton have their faults. In any case, this does not detract from the sighs & swoonings.

Evelina herself is all goodness and whilst, innocent & quite naive and therefore all the funnier are her adventures! The variety of characters surrounding her are astounding from their goodness to the most ridiculous ones. Thoroughly enjoyed this scope of society.
Martin Fox
I first heard of this novel while reading A Room of One's Own by that great writer who is Virginia Woolf. I thought for a long time that it was one of Woolf's funny jokes (excuse the pun, but with a name like that...). You can imagine my smile when I saw it on sale in a book stall (yes, such things still exist and are worth a visit!). I had to have it! I was pleasantly surprised: it is well-written, it has witty moments, and, insofar as it influenced epistolary and realist novels of the calibre...more
A fairly charming, if relatively predictable, story of a young, naive heroine who has to navigate London society, embarrassing family relations, and growing independence. As a character, Evelina feels like a more modern Clarissa. She acknowledges, welcomes, and is embarrassed by her innocence, but still strongly asserts her own independence, intelligence, and rights in her romantic and familial relationships.
The narrative, mostly from the perspective of Evelina, is told in epistolary form; howev...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...
Cecilia Camilla The Wanderer: or, Female Difficulties Journals and Letters The Witlings and the Woman-Hater

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“Unused to the situations in which I find myself, and embarassed by the slightest difficulties, I seldom discover, till too late, how I ought to act.” 15 likes
“Generosity without delicacy, like wit without judgement, generally gives as much pain as pleasure.” 13 likes
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