Frances Burney's Evelina was written in the late 1700s and is a story about a young girl coming of age and her introduction into London society. The novel is written in letter format . . . Evelina writes letters to her guardian, the Rev. Arthur Villars about her activities with her cousins and friends which include wild escapades, embarrassing predicaments and other bizarre situations which leave the reader wondering just how "innocent" Evelina really is despite her secluded upbringing in the country with her very "proper" protector.
The story is told via correspondence between Evelina and Rev. Villars, and his letters in response to her. She also writes to a few others, but her letters to them are more to the point than the long, rambling and exrememly detailed journalistic letters to Villars. The length of the "letters" Evelina writes to him would leave her little time for participating in the shenanigans and family outings she writes about. Therefore, I find the format highly unbelievable and very boring. I found myself having to skim through much of the book to prevent myself from losing interest and falling asleep.
I perked up a bit when the mean-spirited Captain Mirvan and Evelina's uncouth grandmother, Madame Duval would get to bickering. I know it's not very nice, but I found this excerpt particularly amusing when the two were slinging insults at each other about their respective countries:
"Pardi, Monsieur," returned she, "and so I shall; for, I promise you, I think the English a parcel of brutes; and I'll go back to France as fast as I can, for I would not live among none of you."
"Who wants you?" cried the Captain: "do you suppose, Madam French, we have not enough of other nations to pick our pockets already? I'll warrant you, there's no need for you for to put in your oar."
"Pick your pockets, Sir! I wish nobody wanted to pick your pockets no more than I do; and I'll promise you you'd be safe enough. But there's no nation under the sun can beat the English for ill-politeness: for my part, I hate the very sight of them; and so I shall only just visit a person of quality or two of my particular acquaintance, and then I shall go back again to France."
"Ay, do," cried he; "and then go to the devil together, for that's the fittest voyage for the French and the quality."
"We'll take care, however," cried the stranger with great vehemence, "not to admit none of your vulgar unmannered English among us."
"O never fear," returned he, coolly, "we shan't dispute the point with you; you and the quality may have the devil all to yourselves."
Why did I keep reading if it was so tiresome and absurd in many parts? Because I belong to an online discussion group and this is the read of the month and I want to be part of the discussion. I usually don't like giving up on a book, but if it wasn't for the discussion group, I would have chucked it half-way through.
My rating of Evelina = 1.0 for effort and the use of all that ink and paper to write and print it.