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The Female Quixote

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,742 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews

A young woman is caught up in her ideas about romance and valor in this celebrated eighteenth-century parody of Don Quixote

Written in 1752 and admired by Henry Fielding, Samuel Richardson, and Dr. Johnson, The Female Quixote relates the comic misadventures of Arabella, a hapless aristocrat whose life becomes hopelessly confused with the romantic fiction she so adores. Cha

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Published July 16th 2009 by ReadHowYouWant (first published 1752)
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The concept of a woman driven as crazy as Don Quixote by her reading of overwrought eighteenth century romances was I thought an amusing one, but didn't make for a great book. Possibly the execution was difficult because of the relatively restricted sphere of movement that her heroine has in 18th century England. I felt that Jane Austen achieved a better result in Northanger Abbey in which her heroine interprets everything she hears in the light of the gothic-fantasties that she is always readin ...more
Let me be honest; The Female Quixote was a huge struggle to get through. Only the fact that I'd decided that I was going to finish this book and review it, kept me from putting it away. Frustratingly, this wasn't because the story as such was bad or the writing was shoddy, it was because Lennox's protagonist Arabella does what she is meant to do too well.

Arabella is completely obsessed with French Romances. She's an eighteenth century Twihard, only sans vampires. This becomes problematic when sh
Jul 16, 2011 DC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook-audiobook
Hah, what a lovely little book this is. What a lovely, deliciously ridiculous book this is. Seriously, it's a romp.

From the title itself, you can discern that it involves some kind of delusional mis-adventurer. Quite right, as the story revolves around the life-story of the Lady Arabella, who is as beautiful as she is intelligent, graceful and kind-hearted. It is a pity that, with all her admirable traits, she is possessed with a mind too swayed by the romances stocked in her library.

In this boo
Arabella, the protagonist in this novel, is truly just one of the most stupid people ever. Convinced that works of fiction are real, she lives her live by them, believing that any man who lays eyes on her is desperately in love with her, banishing them from her presence, and telling them that she doesn't want them to die because of their love for her. This idiotic behaviour is such fun to read. I feel myself to be like Miss Glanville, gobsmacked by how everyone around her falls in love with Arab ...more
Free download available at eBooks@Adelaide.


To the Right Honourable the Earl of Middlesex

My Lord,
Such is the Power of Interest over almost every Mind, that no one is long without Arguments to prove any Position which is ardently wished to be true, or to justify any Measures which are dictated by Inclination.

Not so good as expected....
It is baffling to think that a young heiress of ANY century would spend her formative years reading romance novels and believing that the events and characters therein were FACTUAL.

This book is difficult. Funny events and misunderstandings do happen, but readers must sift through the flowery language to reach understanding.

We go through 400 pages of our protagonist Lady Arabella acting like a fathead, and finally, in the next-to-last chapter, after she nearly drowns herself in a fatheaded panic,
Jul 21, 2008 Kelly marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 18th-century
A parody of Cervantes from the 18th century. About a girl who reads too many romances and does silly things. I'm excited for it.
Dec 12, 2015 Joseph rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a comedy and a parody of romance novels but also shows the power of fantasy and imagination in human relations. This I think is the more potent of the books' purposes because the way Arabella reacts to life is not a caricature; it is entirely possible that a person can build such defenses in order to survive.

There are scenes of pure comedy like when she believes that the newly hired, handsome young gardener is some nobleman who has infiltrated her estate in order to be closer to her. When
Dec 07, 2008 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: serious literature students
This book is absolutely not for everyone. I liked it, though.

Portions can be quite tedious, yes, and the book as a whole is fairly outdated (hey, it was written over 250 years ago). But, it was a very popular book in its day and I think it's an important work for anyone who's at all serious about getting to know either 18th century British literature or women's British literature.

The ending is quite rushed, which is shameful, but this is apparently because the author was urged by friends (includ
Travelling Sunny
Dec 08, 2013 Travelling Sunny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Don Quixote
Shelves: 1305-read
Found a free downloadable copy HERE. I love it when that happens!

This may be against protocol, and I realize that I only gave Don Quixote three stars. But, I enjoyed this parody more than its roastee. I warn would-be readers: this is not as bawdy as DQ. But, the laughs are there just the same.

Instead of Don Quixote, we have Arabella - a young lady who has been isolated from the world in her father's country estate and has read way too many romance novels. Everything that happens around her is mi
* 2.5 stars
Monty Milne
This book is one joke stretched too thin. The heroine can never be a Quixote because she is almost entirely passive - imprisoned by gender and social status as much as Rapunzel in her tower. The joke - that she takes seriously the trashy French cod-medieval romances fashionable at the time - wears increasingly thin with every boring repetition of the absurdities of her favourite fictional characters.

The book isn't all bad. It's of some interest in the history of the development of the novel (No
Written almost 150 years after the original Don Quixote, Charlotte Lennox attempted similar popularity by creating these adventures of Arabella. Like Don Quixote, Arabella lives in a delusional world so unlike reality that she creates her own drama simply by existing.

Raised on poorly translated romances that she reads to be gospel, Arabella's expectations of the world involves chivalry like the kind she read in the romances of Cleopatra's life. When it comes to her suitors she expects her men to
Nov 15, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious, laughed out loud at points! Arabella was ridiculous but I feel her--sometimes I wish life was more like the books!!!!
Apr 20, 2016 Martin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now this one was interesting. I had zero expectations here whatsoever, and ended up pleasantly surprised.

What I thought would be a cheap knock-off of the original instead turned out to be a clever version of the original from the opposite side of the coin.

I also enjoyed how the writer was careful to convey the various forms with which the protagonist's specific madness could manifest itself, and particularly through the various prisms of the manifold relationships and personalities in the book.

This was fun, mostly because it's a satire that can no longer pain anyone (directly). The romances upon which Arabella is so fixated are long since gone from popular culture. The assumptions she wrongly draws from them (because of her isolation) - that men die of love, and women have to pardon them even for expressing their feelings, that everyone has "adventures" involving a great deal of gore which they should be willing to narrate to anyone and everyone - these are not the rules for loving an ...more
Oct 14, 2014 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So we need to start off with The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox, the bloody great groundbreaking 1752 proto-novel with the same premise as the male Quixote, which I haven't read yet. If Hilary McKay, Frances Hodgson Burnett, the Brontes, and all Mary Wollstonecraft's friends hadn't been invented yet, I would dig The Female Quixote more than I did. Jane Austen was a fan. The Female Quixote mocks the French romances whose shoulders it rides on, the preposterous novels that gave young ladies st ...more
Sep 22, 2014 Kellyk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished this book for my 18th Century Women Writers course and found it to be quite humorous, as many of the 18th c. books are.
Some interesting questions were raised in my class, such as--do the women have agency in the novel? Why does a male figure (the doctor/clergyman) eventually become the hero who works a "miracle" and talks some sense into romantic Arabella? Why did the Countess have to leave the plot? And so on.
I thought that the attention given to the "proper" ways to behave in soc
Sujata Das Gupta
Jun 08, 2016 Sujata Das Gupta rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A bad attempt at satire and parody. I found most of it quite tedious, and after the first few score pages, I hopped whenever the parodic rants started, and when it came to the page-after-endless-page fictitious “Histories” (there were two such occasions), I just skipped. Only towards the end, at a couple of places, I found some entertainment. I did not find it where it should have been, and trying to analyze why, I think it was the excessive style of the novel which contained the very elements t ...more
It’s not until late in the book that one realises the significance of the sub-title to this amusing piece of 18th century literature. Readers of the period would have been alert to the word ‘adventure’ in The Female Quixote, or The Adventures of Arabella because, as the Countess gravely explains to Arabella in Book 8, ideas change, and what was proper in a bygone age, may be scandalous in the present. (And vice versa, in the 21st century). For poor foolish Arabella, whose head has been turned by ...more
Jan 20, 2016 Augusta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
I so wish I could give the reader my full review of this book but it would require you to be acquainted with my whole history and all of my adventures to fully comprehend it.

About a woman who is afflicted with the same madness as Don Quixote, from reading too many romance novels. It's a great idea but I didn't think that it was going to translate to a great novel. Being written in the 18th century it's archaic now in its writing and style, but I still enjoyed this more than I thought it would. T
William Leight
May 16, 2015 William Leight rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Female Quixote” doesn’t reach the same heights as its namesake, but it’s still quite good and very amusing, and I would say compares favorably to the similar in some respects “Northanger Abbey”. It is, of course, about someone who has read too many bad books and so lost touch with reality: in this case, it’s 17-century French romances that have disarranged the mind of Arabella, the title character. Unlike Quixote, though, Arabella is not a candidate to be institutionalized: she doesn’t thin ...more
James Rauch
Mar 15, 2015 James Rauch rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a dreadful novel! Much much worse than Austin's Emma. Although I do concede it has a degree of humour to it, the novel only becomes funny on the second read and only to certain people. Personally, Arabella's ridiculous statements and views influenced by her romances were infuriating, not funny. All of her episodes made her more and more ridiculous, I am amazed that I actually finished this book. The only good chapter in The Female Quixote is the final chapter wherein Arabella is cured of ...more
Apr 04, 2014 Emma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the better classics I've read (and one of the only books I've enjoyed on my course this year) - if you enjoy Austen's Emma or Northanger Abbey, where you and the narrator sit alongside each other and despair as the heroine makes foolish mistake after foolish mistake, then I'd definitely recommend it. Also good for anybody who has had to suffer any Middle English in their degree - I felt like this book mocked and derided every aspect of Medieval romance that had frustrated the hell out of ...more
I was dreading reading this since many of the reviews on here are so negative saying its heavy going but I found it very enjoyable.

A distaff take on Don Quixote where the heroine takes her pattern of behaviour based on French romance novels written about largely classic civilisation and expecting people to behave in the same way. Being kidnapped and threatened with being ravished is all in the days work for the heroine in Arabella's world. Counting of course on a Chevalier always being on hand t
May 18, 2015 Nicola rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books, humor
It is a bit of a one line joke as was Don Quixote but it's delivered well and explored in all its different possible permutations.

Our lovely young heroine has raised herself on a diet of fantastical romances and has disregarded all other works which might have been supposed to provide a leavening of commonsense. The result is a hysterical fool whose arrant stupidity endangers and humiliates everyone around her. Charlotte Lennox tries hard to convince me of this young ladies worth but she fails.
Jul 29, 2007 Katharine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of 'Northanger Abbey'
Shelves: womenwriters, c18
Re-reading for the third time while revising my conference paper on it. I'm on the lookout for particular elements this time, but it's still fun; I've forgotten just how arch Lennox could be.
Janez Hočevar
Quite enjoying, but trying sometimes. On the whole, quite worth the patience of reading!! It rivals with the most funny book of the English literature of 18th century, Tom Jones.
Keep hoping someone will slap some sense into Arabella.
Finished the book this morning, it was ok but very dated but it is from the 1750's so it is understandable.
For its time, this is a pretty readable and engaging bit of writing that isn’t overlong and makes clever use of wry humour as it takes a dig at romance novels and their effect on particularly feminine fantasies. It’s kind of like an 18th century version of Cold Comfort Farm.

Arabella is the protagonist who falls under the spell of the masses of romantic literature she plunders from her father’s library. In this, Lennox was parodying the spell that Don Quixote falls under from books of chivalry th
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Charlotte Ramsay Lennox (born: c. 1730) was a British author and poet of the 18th century. She is most famous now as the author of The Female Quixote and for her association with Samuel Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, and Samuel Richardson, but she had a long career and wrote poetry, prose, and drama.
More about Charlotte Lennox...

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“For Heaven's sake, Cousin, resumed Arabella, laughing, how have you spent your Time; and to what Studies have you devoted all your Hours, that you could find none to spare for the Perusal of Books from which all useful Knowlege may be drawn; which give us the most shining Examples of Generosity, Courage, Virtue, and Love; which regulate our Actions, form our Manners, and inspire us with a noble Desire of emulating those great, heroic, and virtuous Actions, which made those Persons so glorious in their Age, and so worthy Imitation in ours?” 2 likes
“For if I knew how to please you, I would never, if I could help it, offend.” 1 likes
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