Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Romance of the Forest” as Want to Read:
The Romance of the Forest
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Romance of the Forest

3.47  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,284 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
This novel, although not as well-known as Radcliffe's later works, is thought to represent her work at its best. More than just a work of suspense and mystery, it is a work of ideas--a discussion of the contrasts between hedonistic doctrines and a system of education and values.
About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest sp
Paperback, 397 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published October 15th 1791)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan SwiftCandide by VoltaireRobinson Crusoe by Daniel DefoeThe Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von GoetheLes Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre-Ambroise Choderlos d...
Best Books of the 18th Century
96th out of 164 books — 699 voters
Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëDracula by Bram StokerWuthering Heights by Emily BrontëFrankenstein by Mary ShelleyRebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Best Gothic Books Of All Time
202nd out of 389 books — 2,135 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Bri Fidelity
May 15, 2015 Bri Fidelity rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011, gothic
Pros: Reads like the Good Bits of Udolpho - which is to say, like a sort of very morbid Enid Blyton mystery - minus the Bad Bits. Reasonably compelling mysteries; genuinely tense escape attempts; a grown-up (if delicately/hilariously described) sense of sexual threat; lots of atmosphere. Unlike Udolpho, the reveals aren't thunderingly anticlimactic, and there's some actual ambiguity in the supernatural elements - and there are mercifully few landscapegasms and twee sonnets (though Chapters 18 an ...more
Jan 06, 2014 Dan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
“He never read the Romance of the Forest, nor the Children of the Abbey. He had never heard of such books before I mentioned them, but he is determined to get them now as soon as ever he can.”

Chapter 4, Emma, by Jane Austen

(Contains spoiler alerts)

I decided to read Romance of the Forest to see what kind of books Harriet Smith recommended to poor Mr. Martin. While I have a long way to go on Children of the Abbey (640 pages!) I can safely say that they are very silly books. I now understand what
Oct 10, 2011 El rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 18th-centurylit
It's hard to review a book like this without giving away some key points (aka, spoilers), so I'm just gonna keep my mouth shut. The story got better as it went on - the beginning sort of bored me. There's a lot of preamble and mood-setting which is all fine and dandy, except I just wanted to get to the meat of the matter. Enough foreplay already.

It's totally Gothic. It's filled with secrets, a lot of darkness, plenty of mystery, and a whole lot of freaking tears. Seriously, I was ready to build
Jun 01, 2013 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, serious
If The Romance of the Forest (hereafter ROF), were a film, it would be gorgeous - crumbly ruins, Swiss Alps, lakes, weeping willows, dark prisons, skeletons in basements. Guillermo Del Toro would be all over this shit. And if M. Night and Del Toro had a lovechild, he would direct this rambling exploration of victimhood. Don't expect a hero, expect, as another reviewer aptly put it, "a whole lot of freaking tears" and fainting, with frequent poetry breaks (I skipped all of the poems. Sue me). Ano ...more
Dec 14, 2015 ᴏᴍᴀɪʀᴀ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ᴏᴍᴀɪʀᴀ by: Howard

“Este globo parece una masa de átomos en la inmensidad del universo, y el hombre un simple insecto. Sin embargo, ¡oh maravilla!, ese hombre, cuya estatura es tan diminuta en escala de los seres vivos, debe de tener poderes para desdeñar los estrechos límites del tiempo y el espacio, para remontarse más allá de la esfera de la existencia y descubrir las secretas leyes de la naturaleza y tener en cuenta sus afectos progresivos”

La novela El romance del bosque fue publicada en 1791 dividid
Sep 28, 2014 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all readers of Gothic Novels and those who love the language of writing.
Recommended to Barbara by: movie "Becoming Jane"
This book was published in 1791. Author Ann Radcliffe was married, never traveled far from London, and she is regarded as one of those writers that began the "romantic gothic novel." She profoundly influenced Jane Austin. The writing is so rich and exquisite, you'll need to go slow and savor each sentence. Is is possible that the English language peaked in the 18th century, and then we began to lose words? Here's an excerpt: "She read a little, but finding it impossible any longer to abstract he ...more
Feb 27, 2008 Gigi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-for-fun
An unknown girl given to a stranger, a deserted Abby, secret chambers, bones, a cruel Marquis, the handsome stranger- ahh... My first gothic romance. I read this after reading Northanger Abby (Austen)- It is a romance novel and adventure in one. A guilty pleasure for young girls whose imaginations had a tendency to run wild. What evil lurked each time they took the carriage out? What unknown spirit lived within the forest?

As for the book itself I thought it has a pretty good story line...predict
May 22, 2016 Emadeddin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
A good read. It's exaggerated somehow which is really annoying!
I used to love such novels maybe two years ago, but now I think I don't! As simple as that!


There were some beautiful quotes in the novel. It's language is pretty neat.
I'm gonna read Radcliffe's other popular novel Adolpho :) I'm really excited about it.
Nov 24, 2014 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, read-again

"The Romance of the Forest" is a Gothic novel by Ann Radcliffe that was first published in 1791. Radcliffe was an English author and a pioneer of the Gothic novel. The novel was her first major success, it went through four editions in its first three years. However, very little is known about Radcliffe's life. In 1823, the year of her death, the Edinburgh Review, said: "She never appeared in public, nor mingled in private society, but kept herself apart, like the sweet bird that sings its solit
Verity Brown
May 25, 2013 Verity Brown rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: curious Jane Austen fans leery of Udolpho

After being stultified by The Mysteries of Udolpho, I was little hesitant to read another of Radcliffe's books. Consequently, I was pleasantly surprised by The Romance of the Forest, which is much shorter and considerably less silly. The heroine starts out as quite a sensible girl, although as the book moves forward she develops a tendency to swoon. But overall the mystery plays out nicely, as does the romance. The villain is usefully villainous (with logical motivations). Aside from the excessi
May 27, 2010 Surreysmum rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1981, gothic, library
[These notes were made in June, 1981:]. Source - Robarts. Finished May/81. Having read Castles and Sicilian Romance, I am amazed at the astonishing improvement in this book. For my money it is better than Udolpho - it is mercifully free of the excessive natural description, and its death-cell scenes stir me a little more than Emily's gallant defence of her property. The Marquis is not, perhaps, so masterly a villain as Montoni, but then, neither can live up to Schedoni, and I find Adeline and he ...more
May 21, 2014 Laurajeanie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
To be honest: I only started reading this because it's mentioned in "EMMA."

It quit reading it half way through because I told myself "If this stupid girl faints ONE MORE TIME, I'm done." Two pages later, she did. And I was.

If you like a heroine with even just a little spunk, this book is not for you.
Victoria Kennedy
Originally published on My Books Are Me

2.5 Stars

A very interesting read indeed, full of mystery, romance and intrigue, with a skeleton thrown in for good measure.

The La Motte family are fleeing Paris, running from creditors, when the happen upon a house to ask for directions. Instead of getting directions, they end up taking in Adeline, and asked to never return with her. With their new acquaintance, they soon take refuge in a rumbling abbey in the middle of a dense forest. When it's discovere
Feb 11, 2014 Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
Careful! This review contains *gasp* spoilers! *faints*

Eighteenth century novels make me laugh. At the end of every book there’s a happy ending. All the loose ends are tied, everybody usually gets married and gathers around the lake singing kumbayah. Or, at least that’s how The Romance of the Forest ends.

But I get ahead of myself. So the heroine of this book is Adeline, another poor, pretty orphan being taken advantage of by her cruel relatives. She’s handed off to Monsieur La Motte by some myst
Nov 29, 2009 Lindsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is an 18th century gothic narrative from Great Britain. Radcliffe's descriptions of nature and her creation of an admirable, attractive heroine make this book memorable. The elements of horror and suspense necessary for a gothic novel also make this novel exciting.

Adeline, the heroine of the novel, is beautiful, innocent and lacks family and friends. Because of her daunting past, she becomes even more attractive to those around her and a competition ensues of who can win her love and
Jul 13, 2010 Katri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I confess I've wanted to read Mrs Radcliffe's books ever since I read Northanger Abbey. Now I gave this one a go, and must say I quite enjoyed it. Perhaps Jane Austen would think me silly, but I don't think I need to follow Jane Austen's opinion in every aspect of my life!

Sure, the writing is sometimes (often?) overblown with its excessively descriptive Romantic style, but I have a weakness for that style and could overlook its excesses with an occasional amused smile. I did roll my eyes every t
Being a huge Jane Austen fan, I've naturally been curious about the books that were popular to her characters. Gothic romance novels aren't really my thing, but I have read one other (The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole) which I found rather bizarre, but amusing because it was so out there. The other one I never made it through. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe played a prominent part in Austen's story Northanger Abbey. I really tried to make it through that one, but the characters ...more
Aug 02, 2011 Blake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Despite some intense suspenses and lofty descriptions, Radcliffe tells too much in the narrative voice, where I would have valued more some substantial showing of the actual details. I found it difficult to involve myself given that I was so detached from the situation and every effort to involve myself was barred by the author's refusal to give me detail. So I was left too unaffected to either conjure up an interesting picture or to feel like an observer before whom, to Radcliffe's credit, some ...more
Max Fincher
Jun 10, 2013 Max Fincher rated it really liked it
Ann Radcliffe, or 'The Great Enchantress' as she was dubbed, was one of the most influential and popular writers of the 1790s. She is generally considered to be the leader woman writer of the popular genre of gothic fiction, as the genre developed in late eighteenth century Britain.

Radcliffe had published two short gothic novellas, 'The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne' (1789) and 'A Sicilian Romance' (1790) before her first critically-acclaimed novel, 'The Romance of the Forest' in 1791. Written
Candice Snow
Nov 10, 2015 Candice Snow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
What doesn't this novel have? Guns, swords, wars, theft, murder, seduction, high-speed chases, kidnapping, blackmail, romance, action, adventure, ghosts, hallucinations, elaborate escapes, confusing deaths, secret passageways, peaches, wine, revenge, innocence, creepy forests!

Hands down one of the most exciting pieces of literature I've read in a long while. If you're at all curious about the types of books that heavily influenced the works of Jane Austen, then I highly recommend this!
Bill FromPA
Nov 01, 2014 Bill FromPA rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic
Her story telling is leisurely, like the continental tours her heroine takes, but rewarding to the reader who is willing to adjust to the pace of an earlier time. I think this is Mrs. Radcliffe's best, with its almost symphonic structure. In the first half, she introduces the characters, lays out the plot, and provides some thrills and terrors; this is succeeded by a pastoral “slow movement” with fine Romantic descriptions of landscape as the heroine travels across southern France and where new ...more
Alice Baines
Warning this may contain spoilers

Although the blurb sounded really promising i have to say that i was a bit disappointed by the first quarter of this book. Not only does it take a while to get into but Radcliffe's writing style means that the plot is often hard to follow at times. However, once the book got going i found it really enjoyable. It certainly lives up to it's claim of a gothic romance.

With regards to the characters i was a bit confused at the start as Adeline is seemingly portrayed
May 10, 2014 Kat rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, uk-lit, gothic, 2014
The first half of the story was really well done; a perfect blend of excitement and dark suspense. Then all of a sudden the plot began to go around in pointless circles; there was a lot of fainting, lamenting, and bad dreams, yet not much action. The previously intriguing characters became overly transparent and the reading of each page became tedious.

2.5 stars

The Mysteries of Udolpho, by the same author, still remains one of my favorite gothic classics.
I love gothic novels. This one is just as good, if not better than the Mysteries of Udolpho. I can always count on murder, clean romance, intrigue, corruption, lessons learned, and a happy ending. What I don't like about gothic novels: the fainting. Women are nothing but victims and the men are always tearful too. It's kind of an emotional roller coaster...for them anyway. LOL
Feb 21, 2010 Christina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

This has everything you've ever wanted to read when craving life in a summer forest. The heroine is super pure hearted like most heroines in art and literature of the time, but you shoulldn't let modern feminist ire get you down and just enjoy book. A crumbly abby lost deep in the woods and all sort of ghoulish intrigue. So good.
Janez Hočevar
Still struggling to read it, but so far, it is everything one can expect of Ann Radcliffe!!
Ann Radcliffe has done it again (for me, that is). Mysteries, murder, ruined abbey, a damsel in distress.....and a happy conclusion!!!
Roxana Russo
Nov 23, 2015 Roxana Russo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book was a beautiful aesthetic experience,the language sublime, and the descriptions of the scenery made it seem as though one were indeed within an 18th century landscape painting as many literary critics have pointed out.
However,though I did give it a full five stars, it may be a bit tiresome to the 21st century reader. Our heroine Adeline spends the majority of her time trembling in terror, fraught with anxiety, weeping piteously and fainting away ad nauseam. It becomes so tedious in fac
Drew Graham
Jun 16, 2015 Drew Graham rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: me
As Pierre La Motte, disgraced and banished from Paris where he and his family indulged in a luxurious lifestyle, travels through a dark and stormy forest, he suddenly finds himself the guardian of a young and winsome young woman, practically sold by her father for reasons unknown. La Motte and his family guide Adeline to a ruined abbey in the heart of the forest where they take up hiding. But the abbey has deep, dark, scandalous secrets, and when its proprietor suddenly appears, and may have con ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris Fell
Apr 11, 2010 Chris Fell rated it really liked it
To most people this book will instantly strike them as dry and hard-work. Yet there are good reasons why it has become a classic. It has a real power to keep the reader hooked from page-to-page, not only with the characters developed and portrayed, but also with the development of the plot, which has many twists and turns. The use of suspense, leading to threatened outcomes not being realised is used several times in the narrative. This is a technique that has become unique to Gothic fiction, an ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Gothic Literature: The Romance of the Forest by Ann Radcliffe 14 30 May 17, 2015 04:32PM  
  • The Castle of Wolfenbach: A German Story
  • Zofloya
  • Clermont
  • The Old English Baron
  • A Simple Story
  • The Orphan of the Rhine (Dodo Press)
  • Camilla
  • The Midnight Bell
  • The Female Quixote: or, the Adventures of Arabella
  • Aurora Floyd
  • The Bride of Lammermoor
  • Miss or Mrs?/ The Haunted Hotel/ The Guilty River
  • Vathek
  • Roxana
  • Love in Excess
  • Three Gothic Novels: The Castle of Otranto, Vathek, The Vampyre, and a Fragment of a Novel
  • The Man of Feeling
  • Belinda
Ann Radcliffe was an English author, a pioneer of the gothic novel.

Radcliffe was born Ann Ward in Holborn. At the age of 22, she married journalist William Radcliffe, owner and editor of the English Chronicle, in Bath in 1788. The couple was childless and, to amuse herself, she began to write fiction, which her husband encouraged.

She published The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne in 1789. It set the
More about Ann Radcliffe...

Share This Book

“There are certain prejudices attached to the human mind which it requires all our wisdom to keep from interfering with our happiness; certain set notions, acquired in infancy, and cherished involuntarily by age, which grow up and assume a gloss so plausible, that few minds, in what is called a civilized country, can afterwards overcome them. Truth is often perverted by education. While the refined Europeans boast a standard of honour, and a sublimity of virtue, which often leads them from pleasure to misery, and from nature to error, the simple, uninformed American follows the impulse of his heart, and obeys the inspiration of wisdom.

Nature, uncontaminated by false refinement, every where acts alike in the great occurrences of life. The Indian discovers his friend to be perfidious, and he kills him; the wild Asiatic does the same; the Turk, when ambition fires, or revenge provokes, gratifies his passion at the expence of life, and does not call it murder. Even the polished Italian, distracted by jealousy, or tempted by a strong circumstance of advantage, draws his stiletto, and accomplishes his purpose. It is the first proof of a superior mind to liberate itself from the prejudices of country, or of education… Self-preservation is the great law of nature; when a reptile hurts us, or an animal of prey threatens us, we think no farther, but endeavour to annihilate it. When my life, or what may be essential to my life, requires the sacrifice of another, or even if some passion, wholly unconquerable, requires it, I should be a madman to hesitate.”
“These scenes,’ said Valancourt, at length, ‘soften the heart, like the notes of sweet music, and inspire that delicious melancholy which no person, who had felt it once, would resign for the gayest pleasures. They waken our best and purest feelings, disposing us to benevolence, pity, and friendship. Those whom I love — I always seem to love more in such an hour as this.’ His voice trembled, and he paused.” 2 likes
More quotes…