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Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady
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November 2018: Literary Fiction > Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson (a very long book worth TWO stars, and the second barely).

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Karin | 6991 comments (tbr note--this is where I've been, trying to get this finished!)

Too long and far too redundant is this epistolary soap opera. To be sure, Richardson was making a point, as the subtitle, after a colon on the original title page, says "Comprehending the most important concerns of private life, and particularly showing the distresses that may attend the misconduct both of parents and children, in relation to marriage."

This could have been done, far more effectively, in about 1000 pages, not the 1500 + crammed pages of the unabridged edition I'm reading (Penguin)! This is more like watching a daytime soap opera, but with so little action much of the time, just letters, often very long letters, rife with necessary verbiage.

That said, if you like this sort of thing, by all means read it. It certainly deserves to be a classic still in print, and it certainly points out just what is suggested in the subtitle quoted above. I'm not even saying that this is all completely unbelievable. I do believe that there were and are parents and family in this world so ready to marry someone of to a person she reviles (and perhaps even he) for various and sundry reasons that have nothing to do with the happiness, joy or true benefit of that child/sibling/ward. I also fully believe that there are people out there as black-hearted, conniving and vile as is Lovelace. It's also good to see people advocating for either social reform or improvement in family relationships in fiction, even if we don't see much of this here. Is everything completely believable? Well, this is fiction, so not necessarily.

Had this been the length I mentioned, I'd have liked it somewhat better. I can't say that I'd have loved it, unless I read it when I was a teenager. I might have been enthralled by this entire book as long as it is if it had been in our house. I had a great deal of tolerance for this sort of thing back then, and far more patience to wade through a behemoth of a novel and simply enjoy every letter. After all, I was a big snail mail letter writer back then.


message 2: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7756 comments I am super impressed that you stuck with this! 1500+ pages is A LOT of pages for something that sounds so atrocious.

Even the title is too long! lol


message 3: by Karin (last edited Dec 01, 2018 12:40PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Karin | 6991 comments Nicole R wrote: "I am super impressed that you stuck with this! 1500+ pages is A LOT of pages for something that sounds so atrocious.

Even the title is too long! lol"


Yes, but it was worth it. I had some stiff competition for a reading game where I have become accustomed to winning most strategic reader. Someone figured out my strategy and gave me a real run for my money, so to speak. Plus, I'm exploring 18th century fiction more lately.

Nothing like coming from a family with a fair amount of (mostly fun) competitiveness--games, sports for many, that sort of thing. As for my competition, if I won I'm out of the running for it next quarter, so it can be all hers :)


Tracy (tstan) | 1192 comments Oh, boy. This is on the 1001 books list, and I haven’t tackled it yet. This one may be one of the last ones I go for.


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