Friday, June 20, 2008

I finished Clarissa!

Longer than both War and Peace and the Bible, Samuel Richardson's 1747 tale of virtue, deceit, and atonement took me almost exactly two years to read! I finally bought the enormous Penguin Classics edition two summers ago, after realizing that the two-month loan allotted by the public library was not, simply put, going to cut it.

And so, too colossal to drag to the coffee shop or stick in my purse, Clarissa took a while to read. But, to be fair, I wish to mention that I did set the novel aside many times during our two-year affair. Periods of cold silence marked our relationship, and it was not uncommon for the two of us to go weeks or months without acknowledging one another. When I was dangerously sick last year, for instance, I set Clarissa aside for nearly ten cruel months! Remarkably, our reunion earlier this summer was a warm one. Once reunited, we were inseparable, and the book became more my darling, my doting-piece, than ever before.

And I'll say, au serieux, that I really enjoyed the novel, which is a collection of fictional letters that tell the cautionary story of a mid-18th-C. girl who is ruined by the famous (well, literature-famous, not Britney-famous) rake and libertine Robert Lovelace. Instructive, exciting, and entertaining, the book is a serious bargain... where else can you get two years of entertainment for $24.95? Oh, and the last 500 pages got really, really good.

Personally, I really dig the epistolary style, and in particular the letters that pass between the main character and her BFF, Anna Howe, are really wonderful. Tender, funny, and chastising in turns, those letters are my favorite parts of the novel.

You should totally read it: prithee do.


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