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The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox

The Female Quixote (1752)

by Charlotte Lennox

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
This book was a struggle to get through. While I loved the writing, pretty much everything else about the book I disliked, a lot. I get it was a satire, but the book never clicked right with me. Arabella is a very disagreeable character, and because she's the main book, it made me dislike the book even more.

I found it to be very repetitive, after a while even the small amount of humour I got from Arabella's antics got boring, not to mention gave me the urge to give her a smack upside the head. I didn't like the way it ended either, for a book that took it's time to give the story, the ending felt rushed and it didn't seem to fit with the rest of the story.

Like with many books from this time, I do like the intimate feeling the book has with the reader. The author addresses the reader, so it has a different feel to it, when it's written this way. I can't explain it, but I just love when the book is written like this. The writing was lovely, it was a bit off putting having random capitalized letters in the middle of sentences, but it was kept close to its original form, and although it took some time to get use to, I eventually forgot about it.

Overall, it wasn't the best read, while I loved the writing, the rest of the book was just a bit of a dud.

Also found on my book review blog Jules Book Reviews - The Female Quixote: or The Adventures of Arabella ( )
  bookwormjules | Dec 1, 2013 |
This novel was written in the 1750s and is a satire of Don Quixote. The main character, Arabella, is a beautiful, charming, wealthy woman who unfortunately grows up very isolated and therefore reads too many French historical romances about ancient Greece and Rome which she believes in completely. This leads to many humorous situations as she is courted by her cousin who her father intends for her to marry. I really enjoyed the first third of the book, but after a while the humor started to be the same over and over and got a little old. All the men in the book think she's crazy but don't care because she's beautiful and wealthy. I think this is worth reading, especially as an example of women writing in the 1700s. It's genuinely funny and entertaining. It was also obviously an example to Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, a book I love. ( )
  japaul22 | Oct 14, 2013 |
Charlotte Lennox's "The Female Quixote, or The Aventures of Arabella" is a somewhat amusing tale of a woman who lets her romantic notions rule the day with disastrous results.

The heroine of the novel, Arabella, has lived a reclusive life and has been fed a steady diet of romantic French novels, which she comes to believe are factual illustrations of love. When she comes of age to marry, she mistakenly believes that most men are out to steal her away and ravish her. Her ardent suitor Glanville is apparently the most patient man on the planet and willing to put up with this since Arabella is pretty.

I liked the book overall-- at times it felt a little tedious. It was hard to believe anyone would be interested Arabella because she was so completely idiotic at times. I found the book got more amusing as it went on (perhaps because I was finally getting used to the style it was written in.) Glad I read this one (though I liked Jane Austen's "Northanger Abbey" which has a similar premise a lot better.) ( )
  amerynth | Sep 8, 2013 |
The heroine of this novel is Arabella, whose early life has been spent in the secluded home of her father, her mother having died giving birth to Arabella. Much of her time has been spent reading 'romances' - which, in an 18th century context, refers to historically-based stories of tragic heroines. 'By them she was taught to believe, that Love was the ruling Principle of the World; that every other Passion was subordinate to this.'

She takes the books she reads far too seriously and, when she finally comes out in society, she uses the romantic texts as a model for her own behaviour. Comically, she also interprets the actions of other people in the context of the melodramatic, ludicrous romances. For instance, when she learns about Miss Groves, newly arrived in the area, she is not shocked when she learns that Miss Groves has borne two illegitimate children. Instead, she compares Miss Groves to Cleopatra. The effect is that Arabella can seem quite jaw-droppingly modern. Unfortunately other people are merely baffled by her unconventional manner of looking at things. Far from being grateful for her understanding, Miss Groves finds Arabella to be 'the most ridiculous Creature in the World [who was] so totally ignorant of good Breeding, that it was impossible to converse with her.'

Arabella's father is determined that his daughter should marry his nephew, Glanville. At first, Glanville is put off by her manner, until he understands that Arabella's rules of courtship are rather different from those prevailing in current society. He quickly learns to humour her, and even refuses her father's invitation to burn all her books.

Glanville, even though he falls in love with Arabella, is embarrassed and infuriated by the girl's foibles. Arabella believes every strange man she sees is about to ravish her - 'since nothing was more common to Heroines than such Adventures'. At times, comical though her fancies are, the reader might almost believe that Arabella is actually a bit unhinged, and that her belief in an alternative fantasy world borders on the delusional. When she briefly goes missing, she expects Glanville to die 'with Grief at the News of it'. Naturally, he fails to comply with her wish, and it is hard to imagine how any man will ever live up to her ideal of someone who will perform 'an infinite Number of Services, and secret Sufferings' to prove himself worthy of her.

She is finally disabused of her romantic notions by a Doctor, who explains to her that 'A long Life may be passed without a single Occurrence that can cause much Surprize, or produce any unexpected Consequence of great Importance'. In other words, the 'adventures' that are common in fiction are much rarer in real life. Once she's seen the error of her ways, she is quite happy to agree to marry Glanville. Although the ending of the novel has been much criticised, marriage was pretty much the only 'happy ending' available to fictional heroines at that time. Glanville, too, seems to be a sensible soul willing to put up with a great deal from Arabella, and it's not hard to imagine that she will be the dominant partner in the marriage. [July 2006] ( )
  startingover | Feb 1, 2011 |
This is a highly amusing and clever book, a clear jab at the inadequacy of female education in the author's time (18th century) but it is hard going in places. Arabella grows up in her father's remote castle and reads nothing but popular French romantic novels. It is a poor substitute for an education and this becomes obvious when her father dies and she must deal with real life decisions. Amusing, but still Arabella is a very tiresome character ... ( )
1 vote bhowell | Mar 21, 2008 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Upon the whole, I do very earnestly recommend it, as a most extraordinary and most excellent Performance.

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charlotte Lennoxprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dalziel, MargaretEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
The Female Quixote parodies the ideas and themes in Cervantes' 17th-century novel Don Quixote. Critics mark Charlotte Lennox’s work as one of the defining novels of the 18th century, and one of the first novels by an American-born woman.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192835726, Paperback)

The Female Quixote, a vivacious and ironical novel parodying the style of Cervantes, portrays Arabella, the beautiful daughter of a marquis, whose passion for reading romances colors her approach to her own life and causes many comical and melodramatic misunderstandings among her relatives and admirers. Both Joseph Fielding and Samuel Johnson greatly admired Lennox, and this novel established her as one of the most successful practitioners of the "Novel of Sentiment."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:58 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Beautiful and independent, Arabella has been brought up in rural seclusion by her widowed father. Devoted to reading French romances, the sheltered young woman imagines all sorts of misadventures that can befall a heroine such as herself. As she makes forays into fashionable society in Bath and London, many scrapes and mortifications ensue - all men seem like predators wishing to ravish her, she mistakes a cross-dressing prostitute for a distressed gentlewoman, and she risks her life by throwing herself into the Thames to avoid a potential seducer. Can Arabella be cured of her romantic delusions? An immediate success when it first appeared in 1752, The Female Quixote is a wonderfully high-spirited parody of the style of Cervantes, and a telling and comic depiction of eighteenth-century English society.… (more)

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