Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cecelia, or, Memoirs of an Heiress - by Fanny Burney

Free US/UK Kindle Classic
Cecelia is a 1782 novel by British author Fanny Burney. (US Edition)  (UK Edition)   This book was read by Jane Austen and  Austen found the title for "Pride and Prejudice" in this work.  The novel is in five volumes and this is volume one.  You will be able to find the other volumes if volume one hooks you.  As classic book readers know, what we would put in one book, early novelists put in more than one volume.

Now you know are in for fun right at the beginning:
He knew that the acquaintance of Cecilia was confined to a circle of which he was himself the principal ornament, that she had rejected all the proposals of marriage which had hitherto been made to her, and, as he had sedulously watched her from her earliest years, he had reason to believe that her heart had escaped any dangerous impression. This being her situation, he had long looked upon her as his future property; as such he had indulged his admiration, and as such he had already appropriated her estate, though he had not more vigilantly inspected into her sentiments, than he had guarded his own from a similar scrutiny.
Everyone loves an heiress!

Well, not quite everyone . . .
Lady Margaret received her with a coldness that bordered upon incivility; irascible by nature and jealous by situation, the appearance of beauty alarmed, and of chearfulness disgusted her. She regarded with watchful suspicion whoever was addressed by her husband, and having marked his frequent attendance at the Deanery, she had singled out Cecilia for the object of her peculiar antipathy; while Cecilia, perceiving her aversion though ignorant of its cause, took care to avoid all intercourse with her but what ceremony exacted, and pitied in secret the unfortunate lot of her friend.
There is nothing wrong with being an "early" novelist.  Austen, who is the favorite of many, is an early novelist.  Of course that early playwright, Shakespeare, has yet to be equaled, let alone surpassed.  As we fans of classic novels know,  the books we read are not only entertaining, they can be as current on the state of the human spirit as anything written yesterday and uploaded this morning.

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