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Charlotte Temple

2.93  ·  Rating Details ·  1,453 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
Charlotte Temple, a "best seller" that went through more than 200 editions, was the most popular American novel until Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. It tells of a beautiful English girl who at the age of 15 is courted by and runs away with a British lieutenant named Montraville. Once in America, Charlotte is abandoned by Montraville, who marries another woman a ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published February 19th 1987 by Oxford Paperbacks (first published 1790)
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(showing 1-30)
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karen
Jan 26, 2016 karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: littry-fiction
this book is baaaaaad. it is melodramatic and sentimental and full of woe is me and what shall i do and beseeching and fainting and fits and inexplicable deaths. i want montambo to read it because of all the people herein who are faced with unpleasantness, fall into a fit, and die. i want a doctor to tell me what that is all about. and i also want to know how playing the harp with a man for a half hour can knock you up. because i don't want a baby, but i do love the harp...
Sandra
May 17, 2009 Sandra rated it liked it
I liked this book for several reasons. One, it was the first novel to become an American best-seller. Two, written by a woman who was also a writer of plays, music, textbooks. She was an actress and an educator. At one point, she was the main breadwinner in her family, which her husband approved of. We're talking in mid 1700's here.

The story of Charlotte begins in England. She's fifteen years old, the only child of two doting parents. A cute British soldier comes along and convinces her to elop
...more
Sarah
I'm rating this book based on historical context and for entertainment value. It's a really hilarious, melodramatic book with an absurd and sensational story about a young woman who falls into vice (basically, in the words of Coach from Mean Girls, "Don't have sex. You will get pregnant. And die."). But it provides a really interesting look at the gender roles of the time period, the expectations of women and men, and the concerns of the public about morality and sexuality. So as a historical ...more
Stephanie
All the morality of Jane Austen without any of the fun, Fantine without all the wonderful singing. Vanity Fair lite...triple ugh. Dear Reader, I've decided I loathe being talked to directly by the narrator.
Lara
Jul 05, 2011 Lara rated it really liked it
Charlotte Temple is the first bestseller published in the United States, and thus an important read for anyone interested in American literature and/or print culture. This novel is very short--a novella, technically--and has a very melodramatic, over-the-top plot. It's basically an early conduct novel, showing young girls and women what consequences come from having sex outside marriage--poverty, ostracism, and death.

Charlotte is a young British girl who falls in love with a British officer and
...more
Jubilation Lee
This book is for sure ridiculous. It's preachy, and filled with disaster and doom and dead babies, and you imagine that if it were to have a musical accompaniment, it would primarily be wailing stringed instruments.

But! There's something to be said for a book that not only writes, "Silly naive girls, don't run off with sexy soldiers because they'll knock you up and leave you to die," but also provides the reader with all the actual lust and knocking-up action, too. Charlotte might have allowed h
...more
Guy
I scanned some of the other reviews ... apparently, one is a "hater" when one has different taste in literature?
I can appreciate that this novel has historic relevance, but as to the question, "Did you like this book?" my answer is, "No." I read it because of its place in history, but I did not enjoy the flowery, fussy, manipulative style of writing, the predictable plot, the heavier-than-heavy-handed moralisms, or the assumptions the author makes about her audience. This is the 18th century ve
...more
Anna C
Nov 20, 2014 Anna C rated it it was ok
In every lit class, there comes an awkward moment when the professor has just assigned a reading he or she is unsure about. The students are already packing up, and the professor is doubting the quality of the assigned work. And so, just as the students are heading out to lunch, the professor casually tosses out a small disclaimer. These form a catalog of hilarious understatements. My Gender and Politics prof warned us that Judith Butler is 'kinda dense,' and a Shakespearean guy admitted that ...more
Brenda Clough
Oct 26, 2013 Brenda Clough rated it it was ok
Alas and alack! I have been a writer too long. I read a work like this, and instead of seeing it as a period piece all I can see is how it should have been written, better. Move the heroine's problems to the fore. Do not lade the beginning with flashbacks -- her grandparents, her parents, her French teacher, argh! Avoid having people tell us their story; far better to have us right there, watching the old grandfather hauled away for debt. And great day in the morning, must all the characters be ...more
Alyssa
Well, I'm back to reading books for a college class. And this is the first thing I had to read this term? Ugh. Sometimes the life of an English major isn't quite so glamorous.

I will say that while I didn't love this book (written in the late 1700s), I didn't hate it either. Once you get past the old writing style and accept that the author will direct certain passages directly to her reader, it has a pretty good story line. Of course, you also have to bear in mind that the story is built around
...more
Jamie
Sep 16, 2010 Jamie rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
America's first bestseller, according to my prof. I'm not sure why, but the style reminded me of Jane Austen's juvenilia, which could be a good or a bad thing, depending. A novel of sensibility, with an abundance of fainting, a very foreign (to our eyes) framework of feminine virtue, and comically blatant didactic asides.

Charlotte is a super sweet lil' gal who loves mommy and daddy & wants to be virtuous, but also (!) is horny & wants to follow a rakish man to America so she can get her
...more
Alyssawall
Oct 21, 2010 Alyssawall rated it really liked it
In Susanna Rowsons day, this was a book of literary genius. Her target audience was young girls & she wrote this to teach a lesson about cherishing virtue & morals. I loved the simpleness of her characters... None were too complicated. I also loved how the morals of her story are still a much talked about issue in our present day. Charlotte was young, naive, & easily persuaded. The only image she had of the world was that of her little community & girls boarding school. Though ...more
Jason Alexander
Think 18th century after school special.

A tragedy from start to finish. Miss Charlotte Temple is set out as an example as to what the outcome can be when one is imprudent, listening to those that do not have your best interest at heart and allow yourself to be ruined. It is beautifully written and an incredibly quick read. The author uses these asides that I actually liked (I imagined the characters froze in the seen fade out and the narrator steps out with a spotlight as they address the reader
...more
Naomi Schmidt
Jan 08, 2012 Naomi Schmidt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was everything I thought it would be, and more! Interspersed at seemingly random intervals throughout the overly moralistic tale, the author earnestly lectures the reader directly, constantly re-emphasizing all of the already obvious moral shortcomings of the characters as the story progresses. The lessons on filial devotion should be required reading for all children. With such chapter titles as "French teachers not always the best women in the world," "Which people void of feeling ...more
Sydney Bollinger
This book is an extremely interesting look into the sentimental novel. Rowson's narrative reminds me of a story a mother would tell her daughter in order to help her find the "right" husband and live the "right" way. Not progressive in terms of women's literature at all, but definitely worth exploring.

It's also extremely melodramatic, so it's a bit like reading a soap opera where the narrator keeps telling you how to interpret the different scenes.
Katie
Feb 01, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it
A cautionary tale on what happens if we raise our daughters to be "delicate flowers"...they will become easy prey. :-( Also think about the mother/daughter relationships and how they parallel Britain and America. Loved this novel, first American best seller but she made no money on it in America due to lack of copyrights there.
Joe Yellin
Apr 17, 2012 Joe Yellin rated it did not like it
If I could have I would've given it negative stars! That's how bad this book is. Heroine is walked over like a carpet and lives miserably til she dies. Yes, I just painted broad strokes here, but I'm saving you hours of your life that you would never get back if you read this book.
Ela
Oct 20, 2016 Ela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mrs. Susanna Rowson wanted this to be a moral lesson for girls. And in all regards, it is. 'The heedless Fair, who stoops to guilty joys, A man may pity- but he must despise.' Don't follow the passing-even-if-real passion of a soldier; follow reason to avoid future suffering; honour your parents affection; and things like that.

It was an interesting reading, but I did not thouroughly enjoyed it.
Maybe because it was meant for 19th century girls. That actually really loved Charlotte, as to erect
...more
Jenna
Oct 25, 2016 Jenna rated it really liked it
People are giving this book bad reviews, but it seems as if they don't know what the book is supposed to be about. It is a marvelous example of the fallen woman genre that was so popular during this time period. Yes it is filled with unnecessary tragedy, but that's kind of the point.
Emma Probst
Oct 08, 2016 Emma Probst rated it really liked it
This book was really interesting. I liked the many points where the narrator directly and even snarkily addressed readers directly. I also thought it took a great approach to exploring horrible seduction and trickery on one side, and a gradual compromising on the other side.
Rebecca
Oct 06, 2016 Rebecca rated it liked it
The only thing we have read in my American Lit to 1827 class that was actually pretty good. It was like a Lifetime movie in old fashioned novel form.
Keshena
Jun 03, 2015 Keshena rated it really liked it
I have a real soft spot for the novels of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Rather like the cinema of the nineteen seventies in relation to the film industry now, these books are the experimental and unintentionally disturbing progenitors of the tropes and methods that came after them. Charlotte Temple is notable because it is the first American bestseller. I found it amusing-especially the segments where the author breaks the fourth wall to address possible detractors of her plot ...more
sabisteb
Little Miss perfect Charlotte ist gerade mal 15. Sie geht in ein Internat und verspricht der Stolz ihrer Eltern zu werden, wäre da nicht die böse Mademoiselle La Rue. Mademoiselle La Rue ist eine moderne Frau. Sie hatte viele Affären und arbeitet jetzt halt als Lehrerin, was sie aber total langweilig findet. Sie macht Charlotte daher mit Montraville bekannt. Der will Charlotte besitzen und macht ihr den Hof. Charlotte hat ein schlechtes Gewissen, will sich nicht auf eine Affäre einlassen, wird ...more
Kris
Apr 10, 2015 Kris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
2.5 stars

Charlotte Temple was so bad, I couldn't go to sleep until I had finished it. So many factors were working against Charlotte that I kept turning the pages to find out what happens to her. Yes, she does things that she knows she shouldn't do, but not-so-nice people also use her for their own gains. This was why I stayed up reading this novel; I felt so bad for Charlotte. With all the terrible developments, the plot moves forwards fairly quickly. There is also the time Charlotte faints, an
...more
Kathryn
Charlotte Temple was published when George Washington was leader of the brand new United States, and the book would hold the record as the best-selling American novel until a little old book called Uncle Tom’s Cabin came around in 1852. It’s amazing to think that the most popular novel in America for nearly half a century (there were over 200 editions) is now nearly forgotten. Until, that is, you read it.

Charlotte Temple is a cautionary tale of the highest order; the tragic story of a young Engl
...more
Varsha V.
Sep 17, 2016 Varsha V. rated it it was ok
Read for school, and I had to write a literature review on it, so I can't say I enjoyed it much. The plot line is slightly depressing, I don't like the way it's written, and it's ideologies don't coincide much with mine..
Emily
Jun 24, 2014 Emily rated it liked it
Charlotte Temple (formerly subtitled A Tale of Truth) is the Go Ask Alice of the early nineteenth century, being a "true" story of a "real" person who, despite her good bearing was reduced to infamy, and then, of course, died. Like you do, if you listen to the silver-tongued badgerings of a man who's walking the tightrope of ill repute. Charlotte Temple herself is a naive schoolgirl with a good family and not a blemish on her except her blinding stupidity. Her school's French teacher, a lady of ...more
Julia
Nov 14, 2013 Julia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of American literature, history buffs
Shelves: american, fiction
As America’s first bestseller, Charlotte Temple’s place in literary history is indisputable.

The story follows Charlotte from her quiet life at boarding school to her troubling time in the United States after being seduced by a British soldier. Rowson’s mission was to caution young girls about the consequences of behaving badly. Judging by the unfortunate end Charlotte meets after participating in some unsavory activities, I’m guessing that those young ladies got the message.

I typically enjoy se
...more
Jennifer
Apr 22, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Seen as America’s first bestseller, Charlotte Temple is a cautionary tale about a young woman who trusts those she shouldn’t and follows her heart instead of her head.

Maybe I would get more from this book if I was reading it in a literature class with the opportunity for in-depth discussion. As it is, I was grateful for the reader’s guide questions at the end of my edition; they helped me put my thoughts in order a little bit.

I can see why, in its time, it was a best seller: it is scandalous and
...more
Kristi
Nov 15, 2014 Kristi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Susanna Rowson, née Haswell (1762-1824) was a British-American novelist, poet, playwright, religious writer, stage actress and educator.

Rowson was the author of the novel Charlotte Temple - the most popular bestseller in American literature until Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin was published in 1852.
More about Susanna Rowson...

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“The mind of youth eagerly catches at promised pleasure: pure and innocent by nature, it thinks not of the dangers lurking beneath those pleasures, till too late to avoid them.” 3 likes
“She had on a blue bonnet, and with a pair of lovely eyes of the same colour, has contrived to make me feel devilish odd about the heart.” 0 likes
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