Justine: A Contemporary Regency

One of those contemporary historical romances that stands the test of time.

One of those contemporary historical romances that stands the test of time.

Well, not really. Evelina by Frances Burney was published in 1778, but it’s worth a look for several reasons.

First, it was read by Jane Austen and influenced her, according to various googles. The humor is certainly echoes and sharpened in Austen’s works. And despite being written in the 18th century, it’s much easier to read than the sort of 18th century literature and political writing we were exposed to in school.

Second, the book was designed as a “how to,” as in “how to behave in society.” The humorous (for us) and humiliating (for her) faux pas that Evelina commits are the lessons.

And, it’s free on Kindle. I think writers of historical will love the details and the phrasing of the book, and every writer will enjoy watching how the conflict builds and eventually releases into a happy ending. This is an epistolary novel, and the first few letters may seem tedious, but many readers will find rewards by the time our Evelina is ensconced (or is it entrenched?) in London.

If you are so inclined, try it, and let me know what you think!

6 thoughts on “Justine: A Contemporary Regency

  1. Thanks for the tip! I downloaded it and will start reading it shortly (after I finish “The Unknown Ajax” by Georgette Heyer. So historical these days!)

    Years ago when I first started reading romance, a friend gave me a copy of “The Mysteries of Udolpho” by Ann Radcliffe, which is the novel that Jane Austen parodies in “Northanger Abbey.” It’s a real gothic. The digital version is also free right now on Amazon, but note that reviewers say that the scanning machine missed the poetry elements, so the book isn’t really whole. But at this price, it might be fun for some.

    • Unknown Ajax will be a tough act to follow, Kay! I think it’s one of Georgette Heyer’s best – I love all the characters and I adore Hugo. If I could have a Heyer hero for my very own, I think I’d choose him 🙂 And the climactic scene is comedy genius – I should have thought of that when I was looking for great group scenes.

      I’d be interested to hear what you think of Evelina. I really should read it, but I don’t like embarrassment comedy (things like Fawlty Towers make me cringe) and I’m not sure whether I’d enjoy watching Evelina learn from her humiliating faux pas.

    • Oh! I’ve heard of Udolpho, but never at the same time that I had a Kindle account. Going to download it now!

      There are a bunch of adventure stories by . . . Rider Haggard? One of them is SHE or HER? A lot of Egyptian-based thrilling adventures are based on it, apparently. (-: I should take a look and see what I can find.

      P.S. Agree with Jilly that there’s a lot of humiliation “humor” in Evelina. I cringed. But, it was worth reading in the end. I think it’s because the heroine is only slightly humiliated — it’s clear to lay the blame on her guardians for the most part. (Given the time and age and innocence of the heroine.)

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