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The Romance of the Forest

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3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  1,088 ratings  ·  89 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
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Paperback, 397 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1791)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,742)
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Bri Fidelity
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
El
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
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Dan
“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
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Stephanie
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
Gigi
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
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Kim

"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
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Surreysmum
[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
Laurajeanie
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.
Claire
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
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Lindsey
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
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Katri
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
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Heather
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
Blake
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
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
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Verity Brown
May 25, 2013 Verity Brown rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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Bill FromPA
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
Kat
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.
Shiloah
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
Christina

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!!!
Drew Graham
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
Meredith
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris Fell
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
Barbara
Sep 28, 2014 Barbara rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Emily
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Grace Harwood
I really like Ann Radcliffe's gothic novels and this, I think, has to be my favourite. It's a tough one, because I really like The Italian as well, but this has got a bit of everything in it; the pacing is just right, the heroine is suitably suffering and virtuously enchanting, and there's loads of action, thrills, moonlit gardens, romance, wrongly imprisoned chevaliers (well sort-of wrongly imprisoned anyway - okay, he's guilty, but he's a nice bloke, and Adeline, the heroine, likes him!), hero ...more
Steph
As gothic romances go,The Romance of the Forest fits its genre sufficiently. Having read "Mysteries of Udolpho" and "The Italian", two supreme gothics, I was pleased to find the familiar moody landscapes, dark, crumbling structures with hidden secrets, sinister villians, and fated lovers. The incestual suggestion in this tale was a nice twist as well. All of these elements are very well executed in Romance. What the novel lacks (and what I gather was improved upon in her later works) is the cont ...more
Beluosus
Nothing else I've read by Ann Radcliffe has even come close to equaling this one.

" From this chapel he passed into the nave of the great church, of which one window, more perfect than the rest, opened upon a long vista of the forest, through which was seen the rich colouring of evening, melting by imperceptible gradations into the solemn grey of upper air. Dark hills, whose outline appeared distinct upon the vivid glow of the horizon, closed the perspective. Several of the pillars, which had onc
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Bettielee
I really wish I could just rave my pants off about Radcliffe, but I can't. She just doesn't transfer quite so well to a modern audience. There is too much fainting away or falling into illness caused by surprise or sorrow, just when things are getting interesting. I do get caught up in the language. You have to give her the language ... it is part of what I read old books for. She does have me turning the pages, though...many of them... when she descends into pages and pages of poetry. I really ...more
Eden Hazardelirium
This novel has everything you might want from such an antique novel: melodrama, mystery, the constant threat of falling into a complete lack of believability. It would make an excellent movie, even though it isn't written for the cinematically-influenced modern mind. The sheer number of times a man cries or the protagonist faints are astounding - I didn't know there were so many ways to describe those events! Moments that a modern writer would have trimmed slow the story, especially right before ...more
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Gothic Literature: The Romance of the Forest by Ann Radcliffe 14 23 May 17, 2015 04:32PM  
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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
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More about Ann Radcliffe...
The Mysteries of Udolpho The Italian A Sicilian Romance The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne Gaston de Blondeville

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“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.”
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“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.” 1 likes
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