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Evelina

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  13,879 ratings  ·  758 reviews
Frances Burney's first and most enduringly popular novel is a vivid, satirical, and seductive account of the pleasures and dangers of fashionable life in late eighteenth-century London. As she describes her heroine's entry into society, womanhood and, inevitably, love, Burney exposes the vulnerability of female innocence in an image-conscious and often cruel world where so ...more
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 405 pages
Published December 15th 2008 by Oxford University Press (first published 1778)
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Norielle It's clean, but I'm more than positive a child will not be able to appreciate it, also, the language might be a bit more difficult and for a teen this…moreIt's clean, but I'm more than positive a child will not be able to appreciate it, also, the language might be a bit more difficult and for a teen this book might be slow-paced and sometimes boring. It is a lovely book, I'm enjoying it, but I know my 16 year old self would not have thought so.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
SpindelyShankz I believe they're just companions, although Madame Duvel believes he is in love with her. This is the reason she's so angry when she learns he has…moreI believe they're just companions, although Madame Duvel believes he is in love with her. This is the reason she's so angry when she learns he has designs on Evelina. (less)
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3.66  · 
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 ·  13,879 ratings  ·  758 reviews


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Bill  Kerwin
Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a very good 18th century epistolary novel. The prose is precise and elegant, the voices of the various letter writers are well delineated and individualized, and the author makes us admire the heroine and fret over the difficulties which obstruct her happiness. The two lovers—the naive Evelina and the elegant Lord Orville—exhibit sentiment and good sense even in the midst of misunderstandings in a way that looks forward to Austen, and the misunderstandings themselves are both credible an
...more
Henry Avila
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once upon a time in a rural home, many miles from any city lived a girl of seventeen of exquisite beauty with a country parson the humble Reverend Arthur Villars, a kindly old man of the cloth, her foster parent; Evelina of obscure birth, the rest of her name in doubt, maybe Anville...no, it's as good as any, besides one is required... she loved and knew no other guardian... from an epistolary novel of 1778. This lady needless to say unsophisticated in the ways of the world is about to set heart ...more
Sara
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
A delightful read! A mix of Wilde's humor, Austen's perception, and Collins' intrigue. Even in those moments where I suspected exactly where the story was going, I felt so much pleasure in watching it unfold that it was not a moment's concern.

Poor Evelina, thrust upon the world without any armor but her good character to save her from the assaults of unscrupulous men, wanton women, ignorant relations and downright cruel associates, plods her way through the maze with a grace that makes you laug
...more
Wealhtheow
Jul 30, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Written more than thirty years before Austen’s first novel was published, it concerns eighteenth century society rather than nineteenth century. As such, I found myself constantly at a loss. Before reading this book, I thought I had a good handle on the manners of the period. I know the difference between a barouche, a phaeton, and a curricle, and that a lady would never stand up and leave a conversation, and that men knew classical languages and women, only modern. And yet, I was utterly confus ...more
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
3.5★

This is the oldest work I have ever read by a female writer.

I enjoyed this book at the start & 18th century life (particularly in London) really came alive for me! & I admired Evelina's courage when she was left vulnerable in so many situations.

the way through & my enjoyment started to ebb. This is because Evelina was left vulnerable in so many situations! By this time I had realised ( duh!) that I was reading a satire, but a lot of it felt quite repetitive & I was thinking,
...more
Sherwood Smith
This reread struck me with just how thin the veneer of civilization is. Burney was in her mid-twenties when she wrote this (and had probably been writing versions of it for ten years); the central romance is very nearly bloodless, Evelina and Lord Orville being such paragons. Their relationships is only interesting when Evelina thinks he wrote her an offensive letter, but one can just make out some human interest in the two when Orville keeps coming across Evelina in the most surprising places. ...more
TheSkepticalReader
The only thing that halts this from being a 5 star read is that while this book is clearly very satirical, there were some parts of the novel that somewhat made me uncomfortable. (view spoiler)

However, I do wish more novels such as these e
...more
Alex
Jan 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, rth-lifetime
Saw With Manners

"How in the world can you contrive to pass your time?"
"In a manner which your Lordship will think very extraordinary; for the young lady reads."

First the good news: Evelina is a story about introverts in love, and it has moments that are lovely. I recognized my introverted wife in several passages. Burney has an insightful touch with characterization, and an engaging writing style. Evelina is rarely compelling to read, but it's usually pleasant.

Now for the bad news: unfortunately
...more
Katie Lumsden
Maybe 3.5. I did enjoy this, but it took me a little while to get into; for me the stronger section was the last quarter. The letter form didn't entirely work for me, but Evelina is an interesting character, and it's a fun read. I can certainly see how Burney inspired Jane Austen, although I have to say I much prefer Jane Austen!
Ellen
Nov 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels


If you think about the heroines in 18th century literature, most of them have a rather arduous time, e.g., Moll Flanders’ hard knock life (Defoe), Clarissa’s determination to endure and persevere (Richardson), Pamela’s dull, methodical virtue (Richardson), or Emily’s inability to understand the floor plan (Radcliffe). In contrast, Evelina's character exudes spontaneity, and the book—particularly set against the darker novels of this age—seems sunny in comparison.

Her novel is a true bildungsroman
...more
Shala Howell
I read this because I was curious to know more about the novels Jane Austen herself read. And I must say that while this book has its strong points, its main effect is to increase my respect for how Austen reshaped the novel form. Burney's book is amusing, but the characters seem to be defined almost entirely by a single characteristic. They are either all good or all bad, entirely proper or thoroughly vulgar, fully conscious or fainted dead away. There is little development of character through ...more
Marquise
Well... This novel left me with feelings of dissatisfaction that threaten to overshadow all the initial enjoyment I got out of it.

Primarily, it is that I believe the epistolary format was inadequate for the story, it only allows a mere glimpse into the setting through a very narrow and deficient slit. We're confined to read everything mostly through Evelina's version of events in letters to her guardian, Mr Villars, and given that the heroine is an ingénue bordering on helpless maiden or silly p
...more
Peter
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fanny Burney's Evelina is a book I have often heard about but never seemed to get around to reading. I'm glad I did. You can certainly see why Austen praised Burney so much, and it is evident that Evelina functioned as a template for Austen's novels.

This novel gives us a clear and candid look at a young woman as she tries to navigate her way around and through society. There are the literary tropes of the title character initially not knowing the full story of her background, male suitors both
...more
Issicratea
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 1700-1800
This is an engaging novel, as well as a historically interesting one. I can see why it was a hit at the time. It’s uneven, and rather diffuse for modern tastes; and the plot is artificial and implausible. On the plus side, though, it has a real freshness and zest about it; Evelina is an appealingly imperfect heroine; the satire can be sharp; and Burney handles the unforgiving structure of the epistolary novel far more deftly than most.

Burney published Evelina anonymously at the age of twenty-si
...more
Hannah
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 Stars - Superb book!

I am genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Not because I expected to not enjoy it but because I really didn't think I would enjoy it that much - no other real reason. (I'm a bit of a skeptical reader but this one won me over). I don't remember why I put this on my to-read list but I'm glad I did!

Fanny Burney was Jane Austen's predecessor and inspiration, really. I was hoping I would see some hints of Jane Austen in this book and I definitely did! In this part
...more
Justin Evans
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'll admit that reading 18th century fiction is sometimes harder than I'd like it to be. The authors either don't know, or just don't abide by, the rules of fiction that we're all used to. But more and more often I'm struck instead by the sheer joy and verve that animates 18th century novels, and that often seems to have gone missing in the twentieth century--and, obviously, this very much the case with Evelina. There's not a whole lot of unity to the tale, and there are plenty of scenes that Bu ...more
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Catching up with the classics #12

I had such high hopes for this novel. Hyped as THE ladies’ read of the late eighteenth century, it was so insipid I wanted to throw my phone and stop the audio play. It had its shining Austen-esque moments (there is even a Willoughby), but not enough to satisfy.
Evelina learns how to deal with posh society at the hands at the not so well meaning adults in her life. In fact they are fairly selfish and conniving. She is a new born babe utterly clueless, artless, an
...more
Kate
May 31, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014, england
"Evelina, the first and best of Fanny Burney's novels, tells the story of a young girl, fresh from the provinces, whose initiation into the ways of the world is frequently painful, though it leads to self-discovery, moral growth, and finally, happiness. Hilarious comedy and moral gravity make the novel a fund of entertainment and wisdom. Out of the graceful shifts from the idyllic to the near-tragic and realistic, Evelina emerges as a fully realized character. And out of its treatment of contras ...more
Maddie
Mar 08, 2017 added it
Shelves: classics, university
It was quite cute, in the end, wasn't it?
Nicola
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
This was quite an unexpected delight. I generally find books from this era a little hard going; taken overall I enjoy them but the long winded and often oppressively religious and virtuous heroines can be a little trying to my patience at times. Evelina, the eponymous heroine, was a pleasant surprise. Yes, she was virtuous but she didn't make a parade of her virtue and didn't write a single line of poetry! I can't remember if she ever even fainted but I don't think that she did. What she did do ...more
Abigail Bok
Mar 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fanny Burney is like Jane Austen in pupal stage. Her novels use the same marriage plot as the frame for social satire; but what was in Burney’s writing the promise of this premise was only elevated to high art by Austen. Evelina is supposed to have been Jane Austen’s favorite novel, and indeed one can often find echoes of familiar Austen characters or phrases in the book, betraying how deeply familiar it was to her (it was published in 1778, when Jane Austen was a toddler). One can’t read “Remem ...more
Mela
I can't believe I have done it. I have finished it! Ok, I can't tell I have read the whole book, because I skipped many, many paragraphs, but still...

I'll start with good things.

The story (I mean the whole Evelina's background and how it was revealed) was really good. When I think of it I see an engaging and interesting base for a novel.

Next, the characters gave additional value E.g. Captain Mirvan and Madame Duval gave the funny side. Sir Clement Willoughby and young Branghton messed in the mai
...more
Sotiris Karaiskos
In the last few weeks I have been reading books of the 18th century to learn more about the history of British literature and to understand the influences on later writers. Of course, in these later writers is my beloved Jane Austen, who was a fanatical reader of the novels of the time. Some of her favorites were those written by the author of this book and were, in fact, the ones that influenced her most and gave her the inspiration to seriously start writing.

This influence becomes apparent fro
...more
Brad
Mar 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Evelina for a class examining the British novel. The epistolary nature of this novel makes it an interesting read because everything communicated has already happened. I found the social customs and faux pas' of the era to be somewhat fascinating. The story is both funny and serious, sweet and sour, and happy and sad. It has twists that you would never expect to see. If you enjoy books like Pride and Prejudice, you would extract much enjoyment from Evelina.
Summer
Jan 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a romantic nature
I know the exact date I read this book because right after I finished reading it - aloud, to my boyfriend - we eloped!!! We've been married seven years and while other couples have a song, we have a book...Evelina.
Leslie
This 1778 novel reminded me of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen, except for the epistolary writing. Despite the somewhat predictable plot, the satirical social commentary is a lot of fun (especially for those who are familiar with the social mores of Georgian England).
Alisha
Jan 04, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
I did not love Evelina as much the third time around. Also, it's been a number of years since I read it, and I think my tastes and level of tolerance has changed a little. This is a really, really long book, and though I enjoyed the last section, where Evelina and Lord Orville (who is honestly a little too idealized) actually get a chance at figuring each other out, my patience ran thin for all of the horrible people Evelina has to hang out with. The main thing I came away with was pity for the ...more
Marianne
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-reads, classics
4.5 stars!

I believe that Evelina is the book universally suggested to anyone who has read through all of Jane Austen's works and craves more. That is at least how I came upon this book, and I have to say 2019 is shaping up to be a good reading year because I adored Evelina! I believe this is my first epistolary novel and it did not take long for me to quickly get sucked into the story despite the format. Its very reminiscent of Jane Austen (no surprise considering Burney was an inspiration of h
...more
Seema Khan
3.5-4* for Evelina.

Well to start with, I had higher expectations from Evelina after having read Camilla and Cecilia because those books were outstanding! Maybe the epistolary nature of Evelina is the one thing which I was not comfortable with, because logically thinking it is though not impossible but very difficult to reproduce word to word accounts of the conversations one has had! And making a story flow in this medium was something I personally did not much like.

Then the other thing that re
...more
Renee M
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are many things I liked about this story of an innocent in London Society, and other things which were quite tedious. The distinctly 18th Century humor is definitely not my thing. But here and there were glimpses of more subtlety. The epistolary style is also one which seems to have been quite popular in the time period. It can be used to great purpose. Here, I found it constricting in many ways... But it certainly underscores the isolation of Evelina in a world where those around her have ...more
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Also known as Frances 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.
“Unused to the situations in which I find myself, and embarassed by the slightest difficulties, I seldom discover, till too late, how I ought to act.” 39 likes
“Generosity without delicacy, like wit without judgement, generally gives as much pain as pleasure.” 36 likes
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