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

Cecilia

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  3,554 ratings  ·  166 reviews
Cecilia is an heiress, but she can only keep her fortune if her husband will consent to take her surname. Fanny Burney's unusual love story and deft social satire was much admired on its first publication in 1782 for its subtle interweaving of comedy, humanity, and social analysis. Controversial in its time, this eighteenth-century novel seems entirely fresh in relation to ...more
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 1056 pages
Published July 22nd 1999 by Oxford University Press (first published 1782)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cecilia, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Megan If you're comparing this book with those of the later Victorian and Romantic periods then Cecilia is a little racier. The characters allude more easil…moreIf you're comparing this book with those of the later Victorian and Romantic periods then Cecilia is a little racier. The characters allude more easily to the idea of sex and violence, and at one point there is a suicide, but over all it's really tame (especially in relation to modern lit). The character of Cecilia likes to consider herself an honourable young woman so she doesn't often concern herself with characters who might happen to have less moral habits and she does her best to try and distance herself from them. As a result the reader doesn't get to hear or see much from these characters either :)(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,554 ratings  ·  166 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Cecilia
Fionnuala
One of my first reactions on finishing this long and melodramatic 18th century saga was relief that such unlikely plots and histrionic characters are no longer in vogue in literature—though we still have plenty of melodrama in the form of soap opera. Yes, the more I think about it, the more parallels between this book and a soap opera occur to me:
-there are a set number of characters, some of whom turn up again and again serving new and unlikely plot purposes every time
-on each occasion that th
...more
Warwick
I little thought, when I first picked this book up with a sense more of duty than anticipation, how extraordinarily fun it would prove to be (not least because I managed to convince my wife that ‘Fanny Burney’ was eighteenth-century slang for thrush). For the last week I have been rushing through work in order to enjoy my train-ride home in the company of Cecilia, and going to bed early to get some extra reading time in. Which hasn't happened to me for a while.

My main worry, after the first coup
...more
Dangermousie
I happen to love this book more than the combined works of Jane Austen (blasphemy, I know). While lacking Austen's sparkling style, I find this book has emotional connection and focus on social issues than I find lacking in Austen's works. It's probably my favorite 18th century novel, in fact.

The story revolves around Cecilia, a young woman who has inherited an enormous fortune but who can keep it only if, upon marriage, her husband agrees to take her name. Unfortunately, Cecilia has fallen for
...more
Justin Evans
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
We need to get a couple of things out of the way before I get to the proper review.

i) This is too long.
ii) This shouldn't be read the way you'd read a Hemingway novel--sitting down and intensely fretting through the intense pages of intensity. This should be read the way you watch a TV series: a few chapters here, a few there, letting the various plots lines wrap themselves up, taking a pause while the next one gets going, all the while keeping in mind that there is an overarching point to the
...more
Wealhtheow
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kim
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Cecilia, or "Memoirs of an Heiress", is the second novel by English author Fanny Burney, published in 1782. Burney was a novelist, diarist and playwright. She wrote in all four novels, eight plays, one biography and twenty volumes of journals and letters. Fanny was the third child in a family of six. Fanny's sisters Esther and Susanna were favored over Fanny by their father, for what he perceived as their superior attractiveness and intelligence. I'm not sure how he felt about the rest of his ch ...more
Sotiris Karaiskos
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author of this book is believed that had a great influence on later writers, and this becomes even more apparent in this, which is known amongst others because of this comes the phrase pride and prejudice that I believe something reminds you. Of course, the influence is not limited to one phrase, so reading the book is also an exploratory experience for the history of literature.

Of course, the value of this books is not high only for their historical character, it is high because they are ve
...more
Kailey (BooksforMKs)
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, owned-books
Cecilia is a young heiress entrusted to three guardians; the spendthrift Mr. Harrell who only cares about keeping up social appearances at parties, the rich miser Mr. Briggs who lives in squalor and won’t give Cecilia a penny of her fortune until she comes of age, and the haughty Mr. Delville who is determined to keep Cecilia away from his handsome son, Mortimer.

After growing up in the country, Cecilia must learn to navigate the demands of London society, and guard her heart against the numerou
...more
Lisa
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In short, Cecilia is an heiress of great fortune who is also blessed with a wealth of beauty, native refinement, and intelligence. She is a year or so from reaching her majority. Until then she must reside with one of her three guardians. These all prove to be a problem. While Jane has told us that an unmarried man of fortune must be in want of a wife, Cecilia's case proves the same for unmarried young ladies. From the minute she is introduced into London society she is beset with the mostly unw ...more
Rikke
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jane Austen was inspired by Fanny Burney. To such a degree that the famous phrase Pride and Prejudice first appeared in Cecilia. Austen later made that particular phrase immortal. Catherine Morland, the wonderful heroine of Austen's Northanger Abbey, even reads Cecilia and praises it to the skies.

It's easy to see why.

While Cecilia is a melodramatic tale filled with ill-timed declarations of love, suicidal moneylenders, pretentious lords, many faintings and even nights spent in fever-induced ravi
...more
Emily
Aug 11, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One might think Cecelia would be right up my alley. I love social commentary with a healthy dash of romance, I enjoyed Burney's Evelina and I've reread Austen too many times so it was time to branch out. I really cannot recommend this book to anyone. I read the unabridged version, being a snob, and it was somewhere around 950 pages long. I read the first four hundred or so then decided I couldn't take reading about her vicissitudes and skipped to the last 100 pages. I have never done this before ...more
Aqsa (On Hiatus)
Mar 04, 2018 marked it as to-read
So, I thought I'd read this one and the moment I saw 1362 pages, I didn't lose a moment to close it. I don't wanna start a book so long and then get stuck somewhere in the middle :/


What to do?? Help??
Jaylia3
Dec 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Though her parents and the uncle who raised her have died, life should be almost perfect for open-hearted Cecilia. She has inherited enough money to be independent and to live the life that is her ideal, righting wrongs and helping the less privileged. Unfortunately, anything in this long book that could go awry does. Cecelia is not quite 21, and until she is of age she needs to reside with one of the guardians her uncle has carefully but misguidedly chosen. The first guardian, the husband of a ...more
Rebecca
Jul 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
Tis great fun. Relentlessly plagiarised by Austen. Although, malice 'n' insularity are Jane's own work. Credit where credit's due. :p Towards the end, one of the characters even proclaims:
"The whole of this unfortunate business has been the result of PRIDE and PREJUDICE." (Burney's capitalisation, not mine.)

Anyway... 1780s heiress must get husband to take her name. Complications ensue. Influential on Dickens, too. Georgian society depicted in entirety.

*covets flouncy frocks*

*points and laughs a
...more
Rosemary
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
Cecilia Beverley is an orphaned heiress. For the few months until she reaches the age of 21, she has three guardians, none of whom is ideal. One starts to eat into her fortune right away, and other forces are acting against her, while a whole host of suitors try to win her (and/or the money).

First published in 1782, this is a very long novel. Mostly that’s fine, but occasionally I found it tiresome, especially when we have page after page of characters who do nothing except provide comic relief
...more
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
Morty, Morty, Morty. You know, people complain about asshole, alpha-male protaginists in, like, Bronte novels, but I am craving one of those after suffering through his indecisive momma's boy bullshit. At least Heathcliff knew what he wanted!
Hannah Polley
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have adored Frances Burney ever since I read Evelina and absolutely fell in love with it. So I then bought Camilla and Cecelia immediately. I dithered between giving Cecelia 4 or 5 stars as if it was the only book I had read by the author it would have been 5 stars but it just doesn't feel quite so amazing as Evelina and Camilla so I have relegated it to 4 stars. However, it is still a wonderful book full of drama and detail.

Cecelia is a young woman of beauty and intelligence. In addition to
...more
Colleen
This book is somewhat hard to review because I listened to the audiobook which was recorded by volunteer readers. Unfortunately, it was the worst recorded audiobook I've ever encountered. One of the readers was a non-English speaker and didn't know English pronunciation, sentence structure, punctuation, phrasing, intonation, etc., so it was nearly unintelligible in some chapters. Some of the readers were excellent though. However, since the book was so long....and parts of the tale were so drawn ...more
Verity Brown
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jane Austen fans
I read Evelina for a class back in college, and I found it amusing enough (although not as amusing as The Female Quixote: Or the Adventures of Arabella, which was my favorite book from that class). But I developed a taste for the literature of that era, and I've been wanting to read more by Fanny Burney.

I was delighted to find that this book was better written than Evelina. And I was amazed to discover the very real influence of this book on Jane Austen. Admittedly, Austen far exceeded Burney in
...more
Andrea Lundgren
May 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
I would not recommend it save for those who wish to gain a fresh understanding and appreciation for Jane Austen by reading one of her predecessors and seeing how Burney handles characters who are similar to some of those in Austen's books.

The book was well written, but I felt the character of Cecilia was inconsistent--she goes from having self-command and the ready wit of an Elizabeth Bennett to being as flustered and bashful as Fanny Price. The characters were interesting, but rather wordy and
...more
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
I really liked the premise of this book. After reading Pamela by Samuel Richardson, I was ready for a stronger heroine. The prose and writing is good (for a 18th century novel) but the ending infuriated me.

Granted, Cecilia's uncle's codicil about her husband taking her name or her losing the fortune was weird, but I found it refreshing and hoped that Cecilia would find a man who loved her enough to take on her name. Yes, yes, I know it was the 18th century and men liked being macho and proving t
...more
Mary
Jun 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lavan Zerach
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lavan by: Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
" 'The pitiful prevalence of general conformity extirpates genius, and murders originality; the man is brought up, not as if he were 'the noblest work of God,' but as a mere ductile machine of human formation; he is early taught that he must neither consult his understanding, lest, unhappily for his commerce with the world, his understanding should be averse to fools, and provoke him to despise them; and his inclinations to the tyranny of perpetual restraint, and give him courage to abjure it.' ...more
Lynne-marie
Feb 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Barbara McIntire or any JA fan
I was interested to know what Jane Austen was reading that moved her to be an author, and this surely must have made an impression on her because it is pretty clear in the ending where PRIDE and PREJUDICE are mention three times in a row within a short space in an editorial diatribe, that they furnished the eventual name of one of her best known novels. Of this novel, itself, I may say that it gave me more insight into what the state of literature was like at the time JA was writing -- one heart ...more
Doreen Petersen
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: paranormal
A really well written paranormal book with many twists and turns. I would recommend this one.
Aline
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: harvard-senior
Funny, progressive, and fascinating. It makes me sad that it is so overlooked, but I cannot wait to write my thesis on this!
Becky
First sentence: “Peace to the spirits of my honoured parents, respected be their remains, and immortalized their virtues! may time, while it moulders their frail relicks to dust, commit to tradition the record of their goodness; and Oh, may their orphan-descendant be influenced through life by the remembrance of their purity, and be solaced in death, that by her it was unsullied!” Such was the secret prayer with which the only survivor of the Beverley family quitted the abode of her youth, and r ...more
Leonie
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful and virtuous young heiress has less than a year to go until she comes of age is leaving the country to live in London with Mr Harrell one of her three guardians. Her late uncle has appointed has appointed Mr Harrell, the husband of her childhood friend, Mr Briggs, an eccentric and off-putting miser and Mr Delvile, a gentleman from an old family who is absurdly proud. Cecilia soon realises that she is in an unfortunate position as her childhood friend and her husband lead a shallow ex ...more
Maryanne
May 28, 2020 rated it liked it
You can totally see where Austen was inspired, but thank goodness she had a better editor... Cecilia could have easily been significantly shorter!!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Boxall's 1001 Bo...: February {2018} Discussion -- CECILIA by Fanny Burney 7 99 Apr 02, 2018 07:49PM  
British Literature: Cecilia 2 12 May 20, 2015 08:29PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Belinda
  • The Mysteries of Udolpho
  • Pamela
  • The Female Quixote
  • The Quiet Gentleman
  • The Reluctant Widow
  • A Sicilian Romance
  • Barchester Towers
  • Friday's Child
  • Faro's Daughter
  • Mary Barton
  • Reflections on the Revolution in France
  • Dr. Thorne
  • Devil's Cub (Alastair-Audley, #2)
  • Roxana
  • False Colours
  • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
  • Rachel Ray
See similar books…
253 followers
Also known as Fanny Burney and, after her marriage, as Madame d’Arblay. Frances Burney was a novelist, diarist and playwright. In total, she wrote four novels, eight plays, one biography and twenty volumes of journals and letters.

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
12 likes · 8 comments
“Her next solicitude was to furnish herself with a well-chosen collection of books: and this employment, which to a lover of literature, young and ardent in its pursuit, is perhaps the mind's first luxury, proved a source of entertainment so fertile and delightful that it left her nothing to wish.” 4 likes
“...let me counsel you to remember that a lady, whether so called form birth or only from fortune, should never degrade herself by being put on a level with writers, and such sort of people.” 3 likes
More quotes…