Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I read Evelina last month, and this month's selection was Camilla - a selection for the 18th & 19th Century Women Writers' Reading Challenge. I've had this book on my nightstand for a couple of weeks. I tried several times, but the length of the book kept me from starting it. It's a big book, the total pages are 956. Yikes. And because of its length I'm also reading it for the Chunkster Challenge.

Here's the synopsis of the book (taken from Barnes & Noble):
First published in 1796, Camilla deals with the matrimonial concerns of a group of young people - Camilla Tyrold and her sisters, the daughters of a country parson, and their cousin Indiana Lynmere - and, in particular, with the love affair between Camilla herself and her eligible suitor, Edgar Mandlebert. The path of true love, however, is strewn with intrigue, contretemps and misunderstanding.. "An enormously popular eighteenth-century novel, Camilla is touched at many points by the advancing spirit of romanticism. As in Evelina, Fanny Burney weaves into her novel strands of light and dark, comic episodes and Gothic shudders, and creates a pattern of social and moral dilemmas which emphasize and illuminate the gap between generations.

It took me a while to get into this novel, I found that it started off a little slow but it gained my full attention after the first hundred pages. Like the synopsis says it's the story of Camilla, her sisters and her cousin Indiana and their pursuit of matrimony. I enjoyed the way the author described the events and the way each individual girl took in that experience.

Like any other novel, I had my favourite characters. I enjoyed Camilla but my favourite was Eugenia - Camilla's younger sister. Her character, she was intelligent and soft spoken but also a reliance on her own thoughts and ideals, and not being persuaded too easily was so different in comparison to Indiana and even Camilla. But she also easily taken by an unscrupulous character, which didn't demean the story at all for me, but added to the whole storyline.

Camilla and Edgar's choice to take other people's advice and not to listen to their own feelings left me a little cold, but I do understand the reason for them to do so. The people, were to them their confident and mentors, and what would be their reason on giving bad advice. It seems that their relationship revolved around a series of misunderstandings.

I came to the conclusion of two things. First, the book should have been called Eugenia, she really was the one character that shone. Secondly, the novel was very long, and personally I didn't think that much of the goings-on were needed.

Camilla by Frances Burney (4/5) Classic Literature; Published: 1796; 2009 100 + Reading Challenge (22); 2009 Support Your Local Library (17); 18th & 19th Century Women Writers' Reading Challenge (2); Chunkster Challenge (1);

1 comment:

Becky said...

This one really was very long. I read it last spring--and it took a while for me to get through it all. I too loved Eugenia. And I though that Edgar was a bit dumb and Camilla a bit gullible. I wanted to yell at them both dozens of times. Yet I kept reading. I did enjoy some aspects of the novel, but I don't see many modern readers taking the time to sit down with it. An abridged version could draw more in. And maybe a film would do the job even better.