Saturday, May 20, 2017

suspicious suspicions

In volume 7 of Clarissa, my suspicions about something that went on between Lovelace and Clarissa were confirmed.  I am not going to get into much detail so as not to spoil it for anyone (Marissa) who may eventually attempt to slog through all 9 volumes of this book.  But Richardson was quite smart to set up this book in this style as a series of letters.  We have a whole posse of unreliable narrators here.  Richardson was also able to tackle difficult topics in a way that did not offend the sensibilities of his readers.

Clarissa is sick.  Will she recover?  Will her family ever forgive her?  Let's find out as we dive into volume 8.

Monday, April 10, 2017


Volume 6 of Clarissa really makes it evident what a bad guy Lovelace really is.  He goes through endless contrivances to keep Clarissa confined in the house with his spies.  He uses the pretext of a house fire to burst in upon her at night.  He intercepts Clarissa's letters and controls the narrative that is presented to her.  She has now seen his true colors and has incredible difficulty getting away from him.

Finally, toward the end of this volume, she is able to sneak away and discovers exactly what sort of nonsense he is up to.  Will he recapture her?  Will she be reunited with her family?

Now that things are happening, the story is moving more quickly.  I am still amazed that it is 9 volumes though.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

And on it goes...

Volume 5 of Clarissa is in the can.  Lovelace's schemes are working on and off and Clarissa, though attracted to him, is wary of him.  On and off he talks about marriage but one or the other of them has reservations every time it is brought up, or the settlements take a long time, or the house they plan to stay at is not ready, etc.  Most of these delays are of Lovelace's making, so that he gives Clarissa the impression that he wants to marry her, but he actually will not.  She sees through his ways about half the time.

This volume really highlighted what a difficult position Clarissa is in.  She has left her family but can't really trust the person she left with.  She really has no good options here.

Monday, December 12, 2016

So, about that resolution...

The resolution didn't work out exactly the way I wanted!  I got out of the habit of reading again.  Clarissa is just slow going.  The plot is really, really interesting.  There is a lot of intrigue,.  Unfortunately, for the modern reader, the old fashioned language makes the book a slog.  It's not the kind of book that I can just pick up and read for 2-3 minutes here and there.  It takes some commitment and thought to read, get into it, and think about what is going on.

In Volume 4 we see more of Lovelace's true colors.  Did people really act like that back then, or was this poetic license?  A morality play - don't run off from your family, young women, or you might get wrapped up into a situation as bad as this one?

I'm actually interested to see if some of his bad plots come to fruition in Volume 5, or if Clarissa and her family and friends will be able to extricate themselves from his clutches!

Friday, January 8, 2016


New Year's Eve 2014.

Me to Pea, age 6: People sometimes make New Year's resolutions.  You pick something you want to try to do or to improve on for the next year.  Would you like to make a New Year's resolution?

Pea: Sure.  (thinks)

Me: Have you decided on your New Year's resolution?

Pea: Well, I was going to have it to be less shy, but I think that will be too hard.  So I think I am going to try to turn myself invisible from time to time.

This year I made a few New Year's resolutions.  The one relevant to this blog is that I resolved to read more.  Specifically, to read a little every day.  Not counting numbers of pages or minutes, just a little bit daily.  I get out of the habit of reading sometimes, and when that happens I miss it.

Reading a little each day got me through volume 3 of Clarissa fairly quickly. I love how Richardson develops the story through the letters of the characters - I feel as though I am watching it unfold along with them.  In this volume we discover that Lovelace is not that great of a guy after all.  He's a womanizer who set Clarissa up because he wanted her.  He isn't sure he wants to marry her and probably won't be faithful if they do marry.

Clarissa is in a rough spot here.  It would probably make her life easier if she could turn herself invisible from time to time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

She did it!

Clarissa hemmed and hawed her way through volume 2, but decides to go off with Mr. Lovelace at the very end.  We learn that her friend Anna Howe's mother doesn't approve of Clarissa's general attitude toward her duty to her parents.  We also find out that some of the nonsense that Clarissa's parents are subjecting her to is due to Mr. Lovelace himself.  Apparently that's how you got a girl in 1750.  You went behind her back and caused her parents to pretty much force her to marry someone else.

I'm definitely looking forward to reading volume 3 to see the uproar amongst Clarissa's family members when they realize she has headed out!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Has been a while...

Life happened, and I had not had much of a chance to read any of the 1001 Books.  I started Volume 1 of Samuel Richardson's Clarissa twice and my goodness, it was long, slow, tedious, and I just couldn't get into it.  My reading time was taken up by sleeping (pregnancy), reading various magazines, reading to my 2 older kids, pre-reading some elementary literature for the soon to be first grader, playing some Candy Crush (ahem) and just basically doing pretty much everything in the world I could think of that was not reading Clarissa.

That changed this week.  I was inspired to open the Kindle app again and restart Clarissa from the beginning.  This time I made it through Volume 1.  Hurrah!  If you can muddle through the old fashioned language and the fact that Richardson takes 8 pages to do what could be summed up in 2-3 paragraphs, the story is not terrible.  Basically, Clarissa is a much loved, much doted on, spoiled daughter.  Her grandfather leaves her this huge bequest in his will.  This frustrates the hopes of her older brother in obtaining a title.  Clarissa's chosen suitor, Lovelace, is a decent guy who has kind of a bad reputation.  Clarissa's brother prevails upon the family to marry Clarissa off to this gross little guy Solmes in order to get her away from Lovelace and also to get her inheritance away from her to further her brother's prospects of someday getting a title.  Clarissa refuses.  Will she have to marry Solmes?  I guess we have to wait 9 volumes to find out!

The entire narrative is done in letter form between Clarissa and her friend Anna Howe, and there are a couple of letters from Lovelace in there as well.  There are definitely some themes in this book, at least so far, that carry through very well to today.  What is the extent of a daughter's obligation to her family at the expense of her own happiness?

In any case, volume 1 of 9 down - just 8 more to go.  I'm hoping to build momentum here and not have such a long absence from reading and writing this time around!