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The Wanderer: Or, Female Difficulties

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  338 ratings  ·  29 reviews
This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most impor ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published August 9th 2015 by Andesite Press (first published 1814)
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RA Sci-Fi
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is quite possibly my favorite novel. Ever. I re-read it all the time. That said, it's my favorite novel for weird reasons. People who are not all that intrigued by eighteenth-century literature by and about women probably won't like this. People who are more interested in the blood and riot of war than in how discourses of domesticity and women's struggles align with political terrors of revolution would also not be interested in this book. It is a 900+ paged novel, so commit your time wise ...more
Fanny Burney’s last novel, The Wanderer, or Female Difficulties was published in 1814, the same year as Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, and Walter Scott’s Waverley. I think it’s fair to say that it has not stood the test of time quite as well as its year-mates. It’s a consummate example of a “loose baggy monster” novel, in Henry James’s brilliant phrase. I have quite a taste for long novels, but even I found myself losing the will to live at points as I doggedly trailed through its nine hundred or ...more
Kelsey Bryant
The Wanderer was Fanny Burney’s last novel, and, in my opinion, her magnum opus. It was published in 1814, years after her third novel, Camilla (1796). She had started it soon after Camilla, but it was set aside when she turned to plays in order to earn more money to support her family.

There are so many superlatives I could apply to The Wanderer. It blew me away. Fanny Burney (or Madame d’Arblay, her married name) had an incredible mind. My edition was 873 pages long, 5 volumes and 92 chapters.
Dec 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Underappreciated. Wonderful depiction of the limited opportunities available to women in late Georgian society. Also, very interesting politically, as Burney engages directly with the French Revolution and its effect on both French and British society. Not as funny as Burney's earlier efforts, but still every bit as interesting and readable. ...more
Virginia Mae
Aug 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All
A mysterious woman travels from France to England during the French revolution. She relies on random acquaintences to support her once she gets there, but refuses to tell anyone her name, who she is or anything about her. The point: who in "good society" would be willing to help a nameless woman in distress? The answer: almost nobody, and even those who do assist her often have their own selfish reasons. A scathing indictment of British society, a French revolution mystery and a romance. An int ...more
Jun 13, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A book filled with good intentions and characters who made me want to climb into the book for the sole purpose of slapping them.
Dec 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-writers
It is the time of the French Revolution, and a lovely young woman is in a pickle. She flees France for England, but is constantly “in the affright of pursuit, and the dismay of being exposed to improper pecuniary obligations.”

This was overly-long and sometimes tedious, but still an interesting romp through “female difficulties” of the late 18th century--constraints generated primarily from oppressive social customs.

Elinor, the antagonist (the character supposedly based on Mary Wollstonecraft),
Ruth Mowry
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A gripping, long tale on the order of Clarissa, a book I grieved to finish, and so was happy to find another.
Matthew Mansell
I don't know maybe Elinor from this would like Lorde's Melodrama, her story is basically The Sorrows of Young Elinor but, well, without all of that male angst, but there is plenty of that in this novel in case you were sorely lacking that in your REAL LIFE (!!!) and that's exactly what makes this novel such a difficult read, FEMALE DIFFICULTIES is the sub-title!! A real tragic doorstop, all of Burney's previous novels in one convenient binding, more or less, Burney takes from her ever rotating s ...more
Sep 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK. This is loooooong. Has some interesting aspect: a bit of race stuff; husband's rights over an eloped wife; a 10-page or so philosophical discussion between two characters that is remarkably good, touches on many central points and shows Burney to be a worthy philosopher as well as novelist; connected with that, some frank discussion of atheism; some women's rights issues. But, did I say, it's looooooong. And there are just a few too many chance encounters. ...more
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Magnificent for its powerful depictions of what Burney terms “female difficulties,” also the novel’s subtitle. Burney’s heroine, a wanderer, struggles to survive and maintain her personal safety and dignity in a world inimical to women’s financial and moral independence. Persecutors abound. I loved how Burney used Gothic tropes to reinforce her protofeminist themes. This is firmly a “novel of sensibility with over-the-top displays of heightened emotion and many astonishing coincidences.The villa ...more
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Burney's contemporaries criticized this book for its unwomanly interest in international and domestic affairs: she not only draws an unflattering portrait of cultured middle-class hypocrisy in England, but also meditates on the particularly vulnerable position of women under a tyrannical government (in this case, during the height of the Terror in France). The book is long (~900 pages) and contains much blushing, exclaiming, fainting, and tears. Perhaps a little too much to be wholly palatable b ...more
This is the last novel Frances Burney wrote and, for some reason, the only one not currently in print which I think is a shame because for me this is the strongest of her novels (although not necessarily the easiest to read).

Published in 1814 (the same year as Jane Austen's Mansfield Park) but written more in an 18th century style and set mostly in England in 1793 against the background of the French Revolution, [The Wanderer] sets out how difficult it was for young women to survive at that tim
Susan O
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, kindle
Reviewing fiction is always a little intimidating to me. After years of reading and writing non-fiction, I have a clear understanding of what I'm looking for and what will benefit others. But I have always read fiction purely for pleasure, and sometimes escape. I don't read it critically, so if I get caught up in the story or characters, I can't always analyze why I enjoy it. And truth be told, I don't really want to, until it comes time to review it. However, at 1000 pages, The Wanderer was lon ...more
Sep 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miss Ellis (Juliet) journeys to England from France and finds herself at the mercy of strangers due to a loss of her purse as she travelled over. She comes from Family, but refuses to name them as she is being pursued by an evil "Citoyen" from France who has married her for her money.
She travels along and lives with several different families meeting Elinor who is desperately jealous of her because Harleigh is in love with her. Her aunt, Mrs. Maple who is always terrible to her because she is a
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me days of near constant reading, but I finished it at last.
Be prepared for:
A heroine that calls many a Mary-Sue to mind.
Characters that are vastly exaggerated in their respective good- or badness.
A plot reminiscent of a telenovela in its proportions, its many twists and turns and ultimate predictability.
Language that is the closest to Jane Auten's perfection I have seen so far.
Loving it despite its flaws.
I had to stop listening to this one on audio because the adventures of the heroine were so painfully drawn out--I wanted to see the resolution, but I read it so I could get there more quickly. Although I think that Burney is a fantastic writer in some ways (and in some genres), I am pretty sure that this will be the last of the Burney novels I read.
Nov 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dee, xmas-classics
As is typical of books written in the 1800s, this book was wordy. However, having said that, it was a good story. It gave you a good view of the status of women & how they were treated by all class levels.
David Vining
Apr 30, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The Wanderer is, quite possibly, the worst book I have ever read. It does not work on any significant narrative level. Its characters, especially its main character, are stupid beyond comprehension. Its narrative is so drawn out with completely needless subplots that it feels like a 200 page novel squeezed into 900. Its dialogue is outright terrible (in fact, a printing/editing error late in the book reveals that the author changed what had been meant as third person omniscient descriptions into ...more
Christelle Pournin
I didn't have very high expectations regarding this novel considering the bad reviews it received at the time of its publication... And I was dreading its length (about 900 pages). I must say I enjoyed it tremendously, and surprised myself wanting to read it anytime of the day! The characters are very well delineated, and the criticism of the society of the time subtle. ...more
Patrick Barry
I will start with saying I am glad I read it. There is an excellent book buried within those 900 odd pages. But just too much repetition and coincidence as well. How much easier would Ellis's life have been if she had given a false name and said her entire family had died in the French Revolution? ...more
Simon Pressinger
Abandonee, but shall return to this hephalump of a book. I’m just not up for this particular story right now.
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Wanderer" is Fanny Burney's best novel. Much of the story is adventure defined - the heroine's actions are of the "buckle your seatbelts-We're in for a bumpy ride". ...more
Vincent Rivas-Flores
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wrote a very long essay on this book years ago in grad school. I remember this as being Burney's saddest and most frustrating tale - frustrating for the reader and also indicative of how women suffered during this period. For a time, I really loved reading Burney, and I was patiently read through these 500 page novels. I'm not sure that I have the same kind of patience now! ...more
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
heel erg langdradig, de hoofdpersoon is nogal een zeur.
I love Fanny Burney, but not this one. Interesting for history, but got tedious.
Includes interesting material on British reaction to French Revolution
Tim Tarkuni
rated it it was amazing
Mar 25, 2014
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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.

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