Group Read of Evelina by Frances Burney Begins Today at The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide

Evelina Group Read Banner June 2011Head’s up for literature lovers. The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide to the 18th Century Blog is hosting a group read of Evelina or the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World, by Frances Burney during the month of June, 2011.

Evelina is an epistolary novel in three volumes written by English novelist, diarist and playwright Frances Burney (1752-1840). First published anonymously in 1778, Evelina is considered a sentimental novel influenced by the cult of sensibility and part of the early romantic movement. With it’s cutting satire of eighteenth-century society, many scholars view it as a “significant precursor to later works by Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth, whose novels explore many of the same issues.”

We know that Jane Austen read Evelina and other works by Fanny Burney from her mention of them in her letters. Of particular note is a passage from June 2, 1799 to her sister Cassandra illustrating Jane’s frequent use of hilarious sarcasm.  She is writing of news from her journey and stay in Bath, updating her sister on her social activities and the people she has met.

I spent friday evening with the Mapletons, & was obliged to submit to being pleased inspite of my inclination. We took a very charming walk from 6 to 8 up Beacon Hill, & across some fields to the Village of Charlcombe, which is sweetly situated in a little green Valley, as a Village with such a name ought to be. – Marianne is sensible & intelligent, and even Jane considering how fair she is, is not unpleasant. We had a Miss North & a Mr. Gould of our party; – the latter walked home with me after Tea; – he is a very Young Man, just entered Oxford, wears Spectacles, & has heard that Evelina was written by Dr. Johnson.

One can only imagine the intense personal amusement that Jane Austen received by this Young Man’s mention of Dr. Johnson, (Samuel Johnson, poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and esteemed author of A Dictionary of English Language (1755)) as the author of a work of fiction concerning the natural born daughter of dissipated English aristocrat. Oh, the irony of it!!!

Evelina has been on the top of my TBR (to be read) pile for quite possibly as long as it takes to age a fine wine. It intrigued me immediately because it was one of the novels that Jane Austen had read that influenced her writing. I had also read Claire Harman’s biography of Frances Burney many years ago. With honorable intentions I had purchased the Oxford World’s Classics edition and read the excellent introduction by Vivien Jones. That’s as far as I got. Then I downloaded Girlebooks ebook edition of the novel hoping that the convenience of having it on my Nook digital reader would do the trick. Now Heather of The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide is offering this wonderful guided group read every Thursday in June with posts and discussions of the letters all planned out and convenient. How can I pass it up? Here is the schedule:

  • 2 June: Volume 1 Letters 1-20
  • 9 June: Volume 1 Letter 21- Volume 2 Letter 6 (21-37)
  • 16 June: Volume 2 Letter 7- 22 (38-53)
  • 23 June: Volume 2 Letter 23- Volume 3 Letter 9 (54-71)
  • 30 June: Volume 3 Letter 10-23 (72-84)

Today Heather has posted the first group summary and discussion. There is also great giveaway of the Oxford World’s Classic edition of Evelina for those participating in the salon-style group read. Please join in!

Cheers, Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Pride and Prejudice: Group Read – Chapter 22-28: Summary, Musing & Discussion: Day 9 Giveaway

Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. The Narrator, Chapter 22

Quick Synopsis

Charlotte’s attention to Mr. Collins redirects his affections to her and he proposes. Elizabeth thinks it impossible, but Charlotte claims she is not romantic and only requires a comfortable home. Mrs. Bennet does not believe it either and thinks the Lucas’ are schemers and everyone has treated her barbarously. Mr. Collins returns to Kent. Caroline Bingley writes from London to Jane putting an end to any doubt of her brother Charles’ return to Netherfield in the near future, if ever. Elizabeth is certain that the Bingley sisters and Darcy have contrived to part Jane from him. Mrs. Gardiner and her family arrive for Christmas. She warns Elizabeth not to fall in love with Wickham. He has no money and it would be imprudent. Mr. Collins and Charlotte marry, departing for Hunsford. Jane returns with the Gardiners to London. Weeks pass and no sign of Caroline Bingley or her brother there. She gives up hope agrees she has been duped. Elizabeth will visit Charlotte, traveling to London to visit Jane and the Gardiners on the way. Wickham’s attentions are now away from her and on an heiress Miss King. The Gardiners invite Elizabeth to tour the Lakes with them next spring. Elizabeth arrives at Hunsford to find Mr. Collins as pompous as ever and Charlotte tolerant.

Musings

The very mention of anything concerning the match threw her into an agony of ill-humour, and wherever she went she was sure of hearing it talked of. The sight of Miss Lucas was odious to her. As her successor in that house, she regarded her with jealous abhorrence. The Narrator, Chapter 23

So the Lucas’ are schemers after the Bennet fortune. This is Mrs. Bennet’s reaction to the news of Charlotte’s marriage to Mr. Collins. Both she and her daughter Elizabeth are incredulous when they are told the news. Mr. Collins has within three days asked two women to marry him. Charlotte saw her chance after Elizabeth refused him and even though Elizabeth thinks she has not chosen well, Charlotte thinks quite the contrary. “I am not romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connexions, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.” Does this point of view appear mercenary? Yes, and no. Her fiancé is a silly, pompous fool, but she will have her own home and not be a burden to her family. Even in today’s modern world it seems quite practical to me, though I would not choose it personally. Lizzy wants only to marry for love so she thinks Charlotte’s settling for Mr. Collins is impossible.  Both ladies personal choices are a gamble. But in life and love, a sure bet is never a certain thing.

“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 24

Romantic disappointment is in the air. So, Jane has been jilted by Bingley, Mr. Collins refused by Elizabeth, Charlotte settles for a loveless life with Mr. Collins and Elizabeth must give up Wickham because he has no money and it would be an imprudent match. No wonder Elizabeth is getting cynical and is dissatisfied with the world. Her conversations with her aunt Gardiner see her sharing thoughts openly on romance and the reality of finances in courtship. Money seems to be fueling the plot. Darcy’s fortune makes him proud and disagreeable to all. Bingley’s fortune makes him agreeable but Jane Bennet the young woman he is interested in lack of fortune makes her unworthy in his family and friends eyes. Charlotte has no money and must accept an odious, pompous man who will inherit the Bennet estate. Wickham is badmouthing Darcy because he feels cheated out of his fortune. Elizabeth is attracted to Wickham but the match would be imprudent because he has no money, nor does she. Wickham must instead chase after a young woman who until she became an heiress, was of no interest to him. What a muddle.

“Pray, my dear aunt, what is the difference in matrimonial affairs between the mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion end, and avarice begin?” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 27

This question is answered when Elizabeth visits her newly married friend Charlotte at her home with Mr. Collins in Hunsford. It appears from the outside that Charlotte has what she craved; she is the mistress of her own home. Her discretion in marrying Mr. Collins with all of his flaws and foibles was questionable to Elizabeth, but it has given Charlotte the financial security and satisfaction that will not burden her family. Some may view this as avarice, but she thought it quite prudent. It will take Elizabeth a bit longer to see the practicality of it for her friend, even though she may never apply the philosophy to herself.

“what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains?” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 27

Amen. Let’s all go to the Lakes instead!

Further reading

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Day 9 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of the Norton Critical Edition of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating if you think Charlotte Lucas was mercenary in her choice of Mr. Collins as a husband or which your favorite quote is from the novel by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming event posts

Day 10  June 28     Dancing at the Netherfield Ball
Day 11  June 30     Group Read: Chapters 29 – 35
Day 12  July 02      Carriages in P&P

Sanditon Group Read Chapters 9-12: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day Six Giveaway

It was impossible for Charlotte not to suspect a good deal of fancy in such an extraordinary state of health. Disorders and recoveries so very much out of the common way seemed more like the amusement of eager minds in want of employment than of actual afflictions and relief. The Narrator, Ch 9

Quick Synopsis

Charlotte believes the Parkers ailments are imaginary. Diana makes arrangements for Mrs. Griffiths even though not asked to do so. Charlotte meets Susan and Arthur Parker. One is worn by illness and medicine, the other does not look ill at all. Arthur is engrossed in eating buttered toast and cocoa. Mrs. Griffiths arrives in Sanditon bringing only three young ladies. One is a Miss Lambe a sickly heiress that Lady Denham thinks will do for Sir Edward. Charlotte and Mrs. Parker walk to Sanditon House. Charlotte sees Clara Brereton and Sir Edward secretly meeting. Lady Denham seems put out by their arrival. Clara returns and lies about her delay. Sir Edward arrives unaffected. Charlotte realizes that they deceive Lady Denham who would not approve of their match. Sir Edward extols upon the virtues of sea-bathing and encouraging both ladies to try it. Charlotte realizes that her first impression of Sir Edward and Lady Denham were not true. She and Mrs. Parker walk home. Talk of Sidney Parker catches her off guard.

Musings

Charlotte meets the two additional Parker siblings, Susan and Arthur. Visiting there lodgings is like entering a sick ward. The windows are closed and the fire is blazing even though it is a fine summer day. It does not take Charlotte long to conclude that their ailments are imagined fancy since there is a discrepancy with the activity they are about and their hypochondria talk. Diana is running all over town in preparation of Mrs. Griffiths’ arrival and Susan has relocated the three of them from the hotel to lodging moving heavy boxes herself. “It would seem that they must either be very busy for the good of others or else extremely ill themselves.” Arthur appears in good health, though he needs to sit by the fire to ward away damp sea air and his rheumatism. As Charlotte becomes better acquainted with the Parkers medical maladies we begin to really see Austen making fun of people attaching illness as an identity. This family revolves around illness or activity. Such a dichotomy! The bit with Arthur’s speech about toasting bread and sneaking butter behind his sisters was hysterical. This is truly burlesque comedy. Who does not know someone who secretly eats or has done so themselves? Ha!

Miss Lambe was beyond comparison the most important and precious, as she paid in proportion to her fortune. She was about seventeen, half mulatto, chilly and tender, had a maid of her own, was to have the best room in the lodgings, and was always of the first consequence in every plan of Mrs. Griffiths. The Narrator Ch 10

All the wheels of communication behind Diana’s efforts to bring two large families to Sanditon end in embarrassment for her. There is only one Mrs. Griffiths of Camberwell and the West Indians are one Miss Lambe, a sickly heiress that neatly fills Lady Denham’s requirements for a wife for Sir Edward. Her practical nature regrets the long journey from Hampshire, a brother disappointed, an expensive house for a week rented, “and worse than all the rest, the sensation of her knowing that she was not clear-sighted and infallible as she had believed herself.” It did not trouble her for long. Besides Miss Lambe, Mrs. Griffiths brings only two other young ladies with her. Austen describes the two Miss Beauforts as “common as any young ladies in the kingdom with tolerable complexions and showy figures, very accomplish and very ignorant.” This made me laugh out loud. She is mocking what young English ladies are raised to be by showing how shallow they are. Their true ambitions are only the pursuit of admiration by men and the accumulation of fashion in order to captivate some man of better fortune than their own. Ouch! Is Charlotte the only character of virtue in this novel? I do not think I have ever seen Austen dig so deep into human imperfections than in Sanditon!

Among other points of moralising reflection which the sight of this tete-a-tete produced, Charlotte could not but think of the extreme difficulty which secret lovers must have in finding a proper spot for their stolen interviews. The Narrator Ch 11

Charlotte plans to visit Lady Denham at Sanditon House for the first time with Mrs. Parker. Always the salesman, Mr. Parker wants his wife to turn the social call into business opportunity and solicit Lady Denham for a charity cause. His sister Diana, always churning alway at some activity for others has a long list of charities that she would like Mrs. Parker to ask her Ladyship to contribute to also. Now, Mrs. Parker is a very biddable sort of woman, but even she has her limits retorting that she “could no more mention these things to Lady Denham than I could fly.” I did not expect that reaction at all. I love it when Austen has characters react in the opposite of what we are expecting. This point is proved further when Charlotte sees a secret assignation between Clara Brereton and Sir Edward Denham. I expected this from Sir Edward who fancies himself in the “line of a Lovelace,” but not of Clara. What does she have to gain from their relationship? She is an impoverished cousin serving at Lady Denham’s whim. To endanger her relationship with her would be foolish. She seems smart. What does she see in him? Charlotte is puzzled also. “The connection between Clara and Sir Edward was as ambiguous in some respects as it was plain in others.” She seems to abhor their deceit yet sympathize with their plight. “To be continually at the mercy of such an old lady’s whims struck Charlotte as being particularly hard upon a young couple.” Is Austen being purposely ambiguous also?

Still extolling the pleasures of bathing, he sought to entertain them with his longest syllables and most edifying sentences. “To plunge into the refreshing wave and be wrapped round with the liquid element is indeed a most delightful sensation,” he assured them. “But health and pleasure may be equally consulted in these salutary ablutions; and to many a wan countenance can the blush of the rose be restored by an occasional dip in the purifying surge of the ocean.” Now, he hastened to add, trying to bow to them both at the same time, “that either of my fair listeners would need the rose restored to their lovely cheeks.” Sir Edward Denham, Ch 12

Well, there is definitely nothing ambiguous about Sir Edward and his continued foppery and nonsense speeches. His choice of sensual words to two young ladies is most inappropriate, oozing total seduction. How can any woman, no anyone take him seriously? In comparison to Austen’s other bounders, rakes and rattles, he is like a toady Mr. Collins preaching the efficacy of love instead of religion. Our heroine Charlotte sees right through him. The rest of the community, not so much. The only other person who has the potential to set things in balance with his honest opinions, neat equipage and fashionable air is Sidney Parker, who shall sadly remain the mystery hero of Austen’s oeuvre.

Favorite words

superfluity, circuitous, hitherto, efficacy, dross, perturbation, solicitude, importunate, assignation and assiduously.

Further reading

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Day 6 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Unfinished Masterpiece Completed, by Jane Austen and Juliette Shapiro by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about Sanditon, or who your favorite character is by midnight PDT Friday, March 26th, 2010. Winner to be announced on Saturday, March 27th. Shipment to continental US addresses only.

Upcoming event posts

Day 6 – March 20 Review: Sanditon (Hesperus)
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions
Day 8 – March 22 Event Wrap-up

© 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

By the Seaside with Sanditon Group Reading Schedule & Resources

By the Seaside with Sanditon begins right here on Austenprose on March 15th with an introduction and list of characters. To prime readers for the group read that starts the next day, Tuesday, March 16th, here is the group reading schedule and some great reading and listening sources for participants. 

Group Reading Schedule 16th – 20th of March 2010 

Sanditon, by Jane Austen 

Tuesday, March 16th – Chapters 1-4

Thursday March 18th – Chapters 5-8

Saturday March 20th – Chapters 9-12 

Online e-text: 

University of Virginia Library 

Print editions:  

Sanditon, by Jane Austen 

Unlike most editions of Sanditon in print, this edition of Jane Austen’s last unfinished novel is entirely in the spotlight and a book unto itself. Just the right size to slip in your handbag, briefcase or backpack, the portability of this slim volume means you never need be without the convenience of quick reference. Publisher’s description: Following a chance meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Parker, Charlotte Heywood accompanies them to their home in Sanditon, which her excitable hosts promise will be the future epicenter of society summers. On arrival, our heroine finds herself confronted with a very new and all but deserted town that nevertheless begins to fill with holidaymakers. Austen assembles a cast of characters of varying degrees of absurdity and sense, and sets about describing their relations with her characteristic insight and ingenuity. 

Hesperus Press (2009)
Trade paperback (112) pages
ISBN: 978-1843911845 

Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon (Penguin Classics), by Jane Austen, introduction by Margaret Drabble 

If the convenience of three of Austen’s minor works in one edition does not convince you to snap up this classic edition, then Margaret Drabble’s excellent introduction will. Publisher’s description: These three short works show Austen experimenting with a variety of different literary styles, from melodrama to satire, and exploring a range of social classes and settings. The early epistolary novel “Lady Susan” depicts an unscrupulous coquette, toying with the affections of several men. In contrast, “The Watsons” is a delightful fragment, whose spirited heroine – Emma – finds her marriage opportunities limited by poverty and pride. Meanwhile “Sanditon”, set in a seaside resort, offers a glorious cast of hypochondriacs and spectators, treated by Austen with both amusement and scepticism. 

Penguin Classics (1975)
Trade paperback (224) pages
ISBN: 978-0140431025 

Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon (Oxford World’s Classics), by Jane Austen, introduction by Claudia L. Johnson 

Northanger Abbey might get top billing in this edition, but the other minor works make this a unique combination that are often hard to find in such a great value. Claudia L. Johnson’s introduction is stellar. Publisher’s description: Northanger Abbey depicts the misadventures of Catherine Morland, young, ingenuous, and mettlesome, and an indefatigable reader of gothic novels. Their romantic excess and dark overstatement feed her imagination, as tyrannical fathers and diabolical villains work their evil on forlorn heroines in isolated settings. What could be more remote from the uneventful securities of life in the midland counties of England? Yet as Austen brilliantly contrasts fiction with reality, ordinary life takes a more sinister turn, and edginess and circumspection are reaffirmed alongside comedy and literary burlesque. Also including Austen’s other short fictions, Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon, this valuable new edition shows her to be as innovative at the start of her career as at its close. 

Oxford University Press USA (2008)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-0199535545 

The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen: Volume VI: Minor Works (The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen), by Jane Austen, edited, preface and notes by R. W. Chapman 

The recommended choice of The Jane Austen Society of North America, this edition of Jane Austen’s Minor Works is part of a set of six volumes and was first published in 1926. It still stands as the best available today. In addition to Lady Susan, readers will enjoy The Watsons, Sandition, Juvenilia, Plan of a Novel, Opinions of Mansfield Park and Emma, Verses and Prayers and editor R. W. Chapmans’s excellent preface, notes, appendixes and some select black and white period illustrations. 

Oxford University Press (1988) reprint of 1954 edition
Hardcover (486) pages
ISBN: 978-0192547064 

Audio Books: 

The Watsons and Sanditon (Naxos AudioBooks), by Jane Austen (Author) 

Amusingly read by Anna Bentinck, the acclaimed BBC Radio personality, this new recording includes two of Jane Austen’s unfinished works that deserve more recognition and wider readership. Publishers description: One abandoned, one unfinished, these short works show Austen equally at home with romance (a widowed clergyman with four daughters must needs be in search of a husband or two in The Watsons) and with social change (a new, commercial seaside resort in Sanditon). Typically touching, funny, charming and sharp. 

Naxos Audiobooks US (2010)
Audio unabridged (4) CD’s 4hr 29m
ISBN: 978–9626342817 

Ebooks: 

Sandition and other Stories, by Jane Austen 

The Austen elves at Girlebooks have assembled an excellent selection of Jane Austen’s Minor Works, Juvenilia and Letters is their usual thoughtful and well formatted layout for your desk top or eReader, all free for your reading enjoyment. Publisher’s description: Also known as Sand and Sanditon, this unfinished novel was written in 1817, the last year of Jane Austen’s life. The novel ends at Chapter 11, after a promising introduction of the seaside village of Sanditon, a few major characters, and several intriguing minor characters. Also included are The Watsons, Lady Susan, Frederic and Elfrida, Love and Freindship, Lesley Castle, The History of England, A Collection of Letters, and Scraps. 

Girlebooks.com
ebook

Ready your seabathing costumes ladies and gentlemen and take the plunge ‘By the Seaside with Sanditon’. See everyone on Monday, March 15. Bring your parasols!

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