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A Sicilian Romance

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  2,511 ratings  ·  225 reviews
In A Sicilian Romance (1790) Ann Radcliffe began to forge the unique mixture of the psychology of terror and poetic description that would make her the great exemplar of the Gothic novel, and the idol of the Romantics. This early novel explores the cavernous landscapes and labyrinthine passages of Sicily's castles and convents to reveal the shameful secrets of its all-powe ...more
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 256 pages
Published March 11th 1999 by Oxford University Press (first published 1790)
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Average rating 3.35  · 
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Justin Tate
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
And they say this is one of her worst books?! Ann Radcliffe was the J.K. Rowling of the late 1700s. She churned out bestsellers so popular they made her the highest paid author for an entire decade. Her atmospheric gothic mystery/romances entranced the reading public similar to how Rowling immersed us in rich worlds of wizards and magic. Critics and fans alike could not get enough of Radcliffe. And yet today she is rarely read outside of a small slice of literary academia and hardcore gothic buf ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Oct 20, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books
Shelves: romance, 501, gothic
Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823) was considered the pioneer of gothic literature. The Castle of Otranto (1764) by Horace Walpole came first but Radcliffe legitimized the genre by her brilliant use of the supernatural elements and thorough handling of the inexplicable phenomena that, critics said, made readers accept and love gothic works. This work, A Sicilian Romance was parodied by Jane Austen in her Northanger Abby. Radcliffe influenced not only Austen’s works but also those of Charlotte Bronte’s Ja ...more
Jane
Nov 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
The Classics Club Spin spun me A Sicilian Romance,and I’m very pleased that it did.

I’ve always hoped that I would fall in love with Ann Radcliffe’s novels, with the coming together of the gothic and the romantic, but I was scared to take the first step and so I needed that spin.

It was love, of course it was.

The opening chapter was wonderfully readable and it set the stage for what was to come. A traveller was struck by a sight on the north coast of Sicily: a ruined castle that had clearly once b
...more
Kirsty
Oct 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I am sure that the eagle-eyed amongst you are noticing a theme here, but I have wanted to read Radcliffe’s work for such a long time, and thought that placing A Sicilian Romance onto my Classics Club list would be a nudge in the right direction. First published in 1790, the novel is firmly implanted within the Gothic tradition and veers toward the melodramatic almost from its beginning.

As is often the case with my Classics Club reviews, the following blurb of the Oxford World Classics edition il
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Lesle
A Sicilian Romance is Ann Radcliffe’s second novel. A Gothic Romance Novel with a Castle, crumbling stairs, locked doors and family secrets. We are in a Castle owned by the girl’s father Marquis Mazzini, he is simply barbaric, the castle has many caverns and passages and filled with strange noises, lights in a section that is abandoned and death by the abundance.

The two main characters are sisters Emilia the one that follows the rules, so much so she thinks she deserves pity and has no real self
...more
CheshRCat
Only part way through this one. Oh, how I love gothic romance.

P.S. Wondering what exactly the most common cover picture has to do with the plot. I looked it up and it turns out it's a picture of Julia after she was banished to the island (you know, after Augustus found out she was sleeping around with just about every other man in Rome, and went all, "Family values, my dear!" on her, even though he was part of one of the most dysfunctional, sex-crazy families in history. The moment was immortal
...more
Valerie
Mar 12, 2011 rated it liked it
There is a massive difference between reading something for fun and reading something for class. This is the second book I have read for my Gothic Literature course and I am having trouble finding the words to describe this book without it sounding like an essay.
I really enjoyed reading this book purely for the fact that it kept me entertained. Gothic Literature back in its day was seen as a popular yet low-cultured novel and after reading this book I kind of know why that was. A Sicilian Romanc
...more
Rebecca
Aug 03, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh wow... this was terrible.
The number of times the women in the book "fainted with fright" or "swooned with fear" was ridiculous.
However this was written in 1790... so even though it's a bit shite by today's standards, back then it was probably regarded as the best book ever.
Jessica
Oct 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Not much to say. Except in the Librivox recording I listened to, a cat could be heard in the background of some of the chapters. :)
Sarah Mac
SICILIAN ROMANCE is a tiny Gothic jewel. But I'm an Ann Radcliffe fangirl, so that's just my opinion. ;)

She's not for everyone. I'm well aware of this--yet I still remember That Moment when her flamboyant, overblown prose clicked in my brain. I'd just begun exporing Old Skool "trash" literature, & Radcliffe's MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO was one of 4** that I picked up at the university bookstore.

Truthfully, I nearly DNF'd.

But after loving the other 3, I decided to give it another chance. At first my b
...more
Liz
Julia and Emilia Mazzini are happy with their lot in life. Having lost their mother at an early age, they dwell alone in the castle Mazzini, with their governess and companion Madame de Menon to look after them. Their father, a marquis, prefers to dwell elsewhere with their brother, Ferdinand, and his new wife, the beautiful but cunning Maria de Vellorno. Julia and Emilia have never known another way of life, and so this isolation from society does not chafe them, though Julia (the more spirited ...more
Roberta
Oh, how I enjoy a good gothic story in autumn and winter!
Although I like the genre I haven't read much of Ann Radcliffe. I used to read these kind of novels when I was a teenager, but at the time my English wasn't fluent enough and I had to rely on translations. The local bookstore or library didn't have a proper gothic section.
So here I am, 25 years after, trying to close the gap between Ms Radcliffe and me. She's an excellent storyteller. She managed to put a lot into this short novel: love, h
...more
Mela
Ufff, I have done it. I have finished it. I wasn't sure of this to the end. I am sure that I will not read more of Ann Radcliffe.

I can imagine that she was famous and loved in her times. Her novels were something new then. And I can simply believe that she was extremely popular.

Nonetheless, two centuries later, a narration, the way she wrote a story is too much boring for me. I had to skip many descriptions, otherwise I would not finished this book at all.

The plot, the adventure, the mystery
...more
SheAintGotNoShoes
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rounded up.

I find these early 19th century books difficult to rate accurately as I myself am not sure how much I really like them or not.

This book is filled with over the top melodramatics, histrionics and never ending fainting of both men and women for nothing more than a strange sound or a knock at the door - it grows tiresome.

Another annoying thing is the way they immediately fall deeply in love and pledge undying devotion and love to someone perhaps that they have only seen once at a bal
...more
Monica
The only interesting part was when the father and the priest verbally batted it out, auguring who had the most power over Julia via morality. So who had the most power? The father or The Father? Of course while they argued, she escaped, so the real answer is neither of them.
Grace Harwood
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I so enjoyed reading this work which just typified Gothic excess at its very best. What we have here is the story of Julia and Emelia and their brother Ferdinand, children of the autocratic Marquis Mazzini who is every bit as diabolic a villain as Radcliffe's more famous Count Montoni. The children are motherless and live in a castle (in the same sublime species of landscape as Udolpho) which has an entire ruined southern hall which is reputed to be haunted. Of course, this is Radcliffe, so we k ...more
Chris
Sep 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: gothic
The commission of one crime often requires the perpetration of another. When once we enter on the labyrinth of vice, we can seldom return, but are led on, through correspondent mazes, to destruction. -- Chapter XV

Ruinous castles, subterranean passages, tempest-tossed shipwrecks, bloodthirsty bandits, damsels in distress, villainous rulers, picturesque scenery, murder most foul -- if anything defines the Gothick novel it is a selection of these features. And A Sicilian Romance, one of the early e
...more
Lois
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Like any dedicated Austen fan, I have always been intrigued by the books her characters—and especially her heroines—read, and Radcliffe's novels stand out among them. As a result, many years ago I bought a few of them, determined to round out my knowledge of Austen's world, but am only just now getting around to actually reading them (what can I say, I've been distracted). It has been an interesting experience. The plot is fun, albeit in a didactic, moralising, 'I have to justify this whole nove ...more
Teaqueen
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! After reading and super enjoying Ann Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest, I had low expectations for Sicilian as it was an earlier book. Wow! Was I pleasantly surprised! Much tighter and less convoluted then romance of the forest, this story really moves! Plot was easier to follow... Even with all the twists and turns. Excellent characters… Wonderful villains, wonderful heroes, wonderful women in distress. I also love how the story changed from scene to scene in different part ...more
Dannii Elle
This was both the first book I studied during my university degree and my introduction to the female Gothic genre. Despite the infuriating swooning damsels that frequent this, I really enjoyed my experience of reading it.
Kristina V. Ramos
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read it for class. Have to say the number of times I shook my head or rolled my eyes is pretty high. Seems every character fainted at least twice, in the novel. A lot of comical scenes, which of course aren’t meant to be funny.
It’s a classic. Whatever...
María
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
Well that was intense.
Simon
I sometimes get the impression that people before the Industrial Revolution had a completely different type of cultural consciousness than we moderns do. One of the reasons is reading more and more social science revolving around technology's impact on society, but another that I've expanding my literary horizons further and further back in history which requires adjusting to very different storytelling paradigms than I'm familiar with from most of the fiction I read.

A good example is this late
...more
Sara
May 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, romance
I picked up A Sicilian Romance on a whim. I'd read and enjoyed Udolpho, and I wanted to experience more of Radcliffe's work. This was a new offering from Librivox, it was relatively short (well, compared to Udolpho ), and though I didn't know much about it I figured it was worth a try.

The first quarter of the novel didn't do much for me. "Oh," I kept thinking. "It's a partially run-down castle, and a young lady who is in love with one man but being forced to marry another." And so on and so f
...more
Celine
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the earlier works of Ann Radcliffe, the literary giant who helped gain popularity for Gothic literature. A Sicilian Romance started off a bit slow for me, but when the plot really got going, and people were being abducted left and right, shoved into dungeons, hid in monasteries, and are presumed dead about every other chapter, I was hooked.

Although the women in A Sicilian Romance aren't your twenty-first century "kick-ass woman", I was glad to see female characters attempting to create t
...more
Kristy
Jun 18, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Bandits! Fainting maidens in distress! Duels to the death! Hidden castle passages! “A Sicilian Romance” is the epitome of a classic gothic novel in every way. I love this stuff. However, “Romance” was a little too clichéd to be completely enjoyable. The men were either totally evil or totally heroic and the females were just… well, fragile and tending to hysterics. Except for the evil step-mother, of course... but that's a cliche too, isn't it. And all the convenient coincidences were a bit much ...more
Kellie-Rose Wick
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I re-read this book for the 2nd time, wonderfully written.
Emily
Jan 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is wild. Like, I can’t.
Ankur
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Racliffe's classic story has all the tropes of the gothic genre. A presumably haunted castle, incestuous relations, damsel in distress, fallen nobility, creepy atmosphere and the effects of the sublime on the main characters. While some of these elements were directly taken from Horace Walpole's "The Castle of Otranto", which was the first gothic novel, it was Radcliffe's beautiful writing and descriptions which made me appreciate her storytelling and enjoy it a lot even though it was full of co ...more
Samuel Zucca
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was quite a fan of this book - about thirty years later it was quite an improvement on The Castle of Otranto and it exemplifies the kind of Gothic that is probably more recognisable today.

The story is quite a similar one to Otranto as well, again dealing with an immoral Italian patriarch, the marquis of Mazzini. The marquis won't let his daughter Julia marry the man she loves, and instead wants to set her up with the Duke de Luovo, a stern man who's basically a copy of himself. In an act of re
...more
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Ann Radcliffe was an English author, a pioneer of the gothic novel.

Radcliffe was born Ann Ward. Her father, William, was a haberdasher, who moved the family to Bath to manage a china shop in 1772. Radcliffe occasionally lived with her uncle, Thomas Bentley, in Chelsea, who was in partnership with a fellow Unitarian, Josiah Wedgwood. Although mixing in some distinguished circles, Radcliffe seems to
...more

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“As I walked over the loose fragments of stone, which lay scattered and surveyed the sublimity and grandeur of the ruins, I recurred, by a natural association of ideas, to the times when these walls stood proudly in their original splendor, when the halls were the scenes of hospitality and festive magnificence, and when they resounded with the voices of those whom death had long since swept from earth. "Thus," said I, "shall the present generation - he who now sink in misery - and he who now swim in pleasure, alike pass away and be forgotten.” 6 likes
“How short a period often reverses the character of our sentiments, rendering that which yesterday we despised, today desirable.” 5 likes
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