Saturday, May 18, 2013're breakin' my heart.

Fanny Burney's novel Cecilia is over 1000 pages long.  The beginning was really interesting.  The main character, Cecilia, is a beautiful, smart, thoughtful girl with a huge fortune.  The only catch is that to retain her fortune, anyone she marries must take her last name rather than Cecilia change her name to match her husband's.  (Interesting twist for 1789.)   The first portion of the novel has her staying with a spendthrift couple who she lends money to and then loses as the husband kills himself to escape debts.

Then things get very slow.  Cecilia kind of decides that she likes this aristocrat, Delvile.  His parents, though they like the idea of Cecilia's fortune, are horrified by the idea that their only son would do anything other than carry on the family name.  Hundreds of pages go by and they go back and forth, nothing being resolved.  It struck me how the mutual interest between Cecilia and Delvile is downplayed.  Cecilia seems happy to be single and seems to sort of choose Delvile not out of any strong feelings but more because she doesn't like the alternative suitors and feels like a life with Delvile would not be too bad.  I am not sure whether this is because of the time at which Burney was writing where declarations of undying love would be seen as gauche or offensive, or we are supposed to consider Cecilia's character as kind of above romantic love.

Finally, 950 pages or so into the book, things get interesting again, and our heroine is able to be married to Delvile, and a Delvile relative leaves Cecilia some money because they like her so much and feel bad that she had to give up her fortune.  All's well that ends well in Cecilia-land.

I liked this book, though it was kind of slow in parts.  I like learning about upper class society from these times.  I can't believe how long it took me to read it though!

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