Written entirely in the epistolary style (comprised of nothing but letters between the protagonists, a first for a modern novel, and as the insipiratiWritten entirely in the epistolary style (comprised of nothing but letters between the protagonists, a first for a modern novel, and as the insipiration for de Laclos' "Les Liasons Dangereuses" over 30 years later), Clarissa Harlowe, the much beloved and golden daughter of the wealthy Harlowe family, is the sole heir(ess) of a large fortune upon the death of her grandfather.
Thinking of the prosperity of the family and the family name, her parents are inducing her to marry the very wealthy Mr. Solmes, a man who Clarissa finds disagreeable, ugly, unintelligent and, through willful disobedience and procrastination, refuses to consent to the marriage, much to the consternation and chagrin of her parents and family. Thrown in the mix is Richard Lovelace, a libertine whose exploits and appetites are known far and wide and a non-believer of the virtue of women, who has attracted the eye of the chaste and virtuous Clarissa, and sets out to prove his theory by duplicitous means. Of course, this attention from Lovelace incites the ire and fury of her family.
Forbidden to correspond wih the libertine Lovelace, though she continues to do so clandestinely, she is subjected to a form of 'house arrest' by her parents to keep her away from Lovelace and to induce her to marry Solmes. This leads her into being tricked to escape with Lovelace by his conniving machinations, setting forth a series of unfortunate events for Clarissa: her ostracization from her family and a 'curse' from her father; Lovelace's continued mendacity and duplicity regarding their impending "marriage" and feigned betrothal to strangers; her 'imprisonment' and violent ruination in a house of ill repute; all the while corresponding with her dear friend, Anna Howe, and becoming even more fervent in her sense of virtue and religious devotions, leading her to, willingly, succumb and leave the harsh realities of earthly realm to be with the Father of the heavenely realm.
"Clarissa" is an exciting, if not cerebral (and very long, at 1400 plus pages) novel of an innocent young woman who, though tempted, resists temptation and stays steadfast to what she believes in, only to 'sacrifice' herself in the end because of the immorality, amorality and unforgiving nature of man. Highly recommended!...more
A winner from Antonia Fraser depicting the life of the Austrian princess who, betrothed to Louis XVI, was thrust into the royal French court at a younA winner from Antonia Fraser depicting the life of the Austrian princess who, betrothed to Louis XVI, was thrust into the royal French court at a young age and made a disastrous first impression amongst the nobles and the common people. Eventually, she came into her own and became the beloved queen. But, beset by personal trials, scandals, and eventually the scapegoat (alongside her husband, the king) for the burgeoning fiscal crisis that was felt throughout France, primarily amongst the poor, she was later led to the scaffold, serving as an example of the debauched excess of the ancien regime, a casualty (along with the entire royal family) of the French Revolution. A great read!...more
Flaubert's epic tale of Emma Bovary, a provincial young woman married to a country doctor, who, feeling detached, stifled, aloof and disenchanted withFlaubert's epic tale of Emma Bovary, a provincial young woman married to a country doctor, who, feeling detached, stifled, aloof and disenchanted with married life and her family, seeks to fill the void of her emptiness. She does this with frivolous shopping on credit, incurring a massive debt, and embarks on a series of affair, one being with the aristocratic rake, Rodolphe, who uses callously as he sees fit, that inevitably proves to be her downfall, resulting in a selfish act of defiance rather than face the consequences of her actions. This novel created quite the scandal in France when it debuted, dealing with the subject of the adultery as committed by the novel's heroine with remorseless flagrancy and little thought to her reputation. An outstanding novel!...more