23 December 2011

Henrietta, by Charlotte Lennox

De-lightful. It's rare to read a novel whose didacticism you actually find pleasure in. A key component is the wicked satire and wit of it - moralistic it may be, but humorless it is not. But it's also a rare case where a heroine's virtue is actually endearing. I think this is largely because, unlike so many 18th century female characters, she's got common sense, wit, and a healthy dose of moxy. She does burst into tears occasionally, but you can hardly blame her, given the frustrations and travails she's put through, and she is also perfectly capable of laying the smack down when the need arises, which is pretty awesome. She gets pale and her eyes flash and she speaks with lofty contempt - the kind of detail you will either find utterly insipid or totally awesome (I, having been taught by my father at a young age to idolize Edmund Dantes as a raging badass, fall in the latter camp, surprise surprise). Although she is an absolute paragon of virtue, she is neither heartless nor dull. Basically - she's actually someone you could see yourself wanting to be when you grow up. Why aren't all romance novels like this?

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