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Belinda by Maria Edgeworth

Belinda (1801)

by Maria Edgeworth

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
440635,365 (3.77)1 / 51
  1. 10
    Marriage by Susan Ferrier (burneyfan)
    burneyfan: Definitely a great read for fans of Edgeworth, Burney, or Charlotte Lennox. Ferrier has been called the "Scottish Jane Austen" -- such a title sets expectations unfairly high and invites disappointment for readers looking for another Pride & Prejudice, but Ferrier is nonetheless a delightful writer.… (more)
  2. 10
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (catherinestead)

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Belinda Portman has come of age, and her Aunt Stanhope has made arrangements for her to stay in London with Lady Delacour. Aunt Stanhope has a reputation as a matchmaker for her young female relations, and Belinda is to be her next success story. Lady Delacour is an odd choice of chaperon. Lord and Lady Delacour lead largely separate lives, and Lady Delacour has a reputation as a flirt. Belinda is on her guard after she overhears a conversation not meant for her ears, and she comes to realize that it’s up to her to guard her own reputation and her own heart.

This early 19th century novel reads like a mashup of Shaw’s Pygmalion and Austen’s Emma, occasionally wandering into a Dickens novel. Perhaps this is an indication of Edgeworth’s influence on later generations of authors. ( )
  cbl_tn | Mar 12, 2019 |
This was a group read, helped along with informative commentary by Liz. Belinda is our titular heroine, but she doesn;t exactly fit the mould of the time. She's a niece of the matchmaking Selina Stanhope, who has thus far launched the society careers of a number of nieces and amrried them all off sucessfully. Not always happily, but happiness and social success are in no way the same thing, as this book makes plain. Belinda is duly lodged with Lady Delacour, who might be seen as the antithesis of how BBelinda should behave. She was once a society heiress and made a splash in society, with numerous offers for her hand. She herself had lost her heart to one Mr Peveril, and while he returned her love, he declined to put her on a pedestall and be blind to her faults, so she spurned him. In a fit of pique (or on the rebound, maybe) she marries Lord Delacour and they are now somewhat unhappy. Always at cross purposes, with a child being cared for by relatives, they really have no point of contact. Another example to Belinda of what making a good match but poor marriage might entail.
Of Belinda's own prospects, there are several. Sir Phillip Baddesley is a bore and a cad and deserves the comeuppance he gets. Clarence Hervey is another and he is more promising, only he is not the marrying type, is engaged in a flirtation that is rumoutred to be an affair with Lady Delacour and is believed to have a mistress. All of which are black marks against his name. But he also comes with that society gallantry that makes it hard to know if he's telling the truth at any point and appears a little hypocritical. And has a superiority complex that, to be frack, he does not deserve. He's not exactly hero material. Our final suitor is Mt Vincent, from the West Indies, he has a fortune to his name and comes with the benefit of being the mentor of Mr Peveril (who is taken as a model round these parts). All is not as it appears here either, and that which looks good form one angle can be flawed from another.
Having had all these different examples and lessons (there is something to learn from each incident - but it isn't all that didactical) Belinda uses her head to make rational decisions. These can appear cold, and she is accused of being cold hearted by not being swept away on a tide of feeling. I liked her, but can see that she was not necessarily a creature of her time. Like Mary Wollstencraft in the Vinicaiton of the Richts of Women, I feel that Maria Edgeworth is pushing for women to be educated and use their heads more, as being a creature of nothing but emotion gets very wearing and is not necessarily goood for anyone. It took a bit of time to read, it is quite dense and the style of writing takes a little getting used to (as with anything of this vintage). I enjoyed it. ( )
  Helenliz | Feb 28, 2019 |
'How my eyes have been blinded by her artifice! This last stroke was rather too bold, and has opened them effectually, and now I see a thousand things that escaped me before.' (181)

Like The Romance of the Forest, I read this because I was told I might find some female proto-scientists in it; I found less science and less enjoyment in it than Romance of the Forest. The book sort of meanders an uninteresting protagonist through the Pride and Prejudiceesque but slightly more scandalous society of the early nineteenth century. Not much seems to happen, and it does so quite slowly.
  Stevil2001 | Sep 21, 2018 |
Belinda is a silly, naive girl who is sent to stay with the glamorous Lady Delacour. Her worldly aunt wants her to find a rich husband, Lady Delacour wants her to be entertaining, and Belinda just wants to fall in love. She is initially dazzled by the high-flying life of the Delacours and the rest of the Ton, but rapidly sees the dark side to the sparkling diamonds and scathing witticisms.

Although the novel was published in 1801, this is a very readable book, with dialog that still scintillates to the modern ear. Alas, Edgeworth lost her nerve half way through this fascinating novel. Abruptly, everything becomes black or white. Belinda becomes a paragon of such utter virtue that she never puts a foot wrong, and thus loses all individuality. The battle between the ideals of Harriet Freke (a proto-feminst character) and the perfect Percivals is never truly joined, because the author explicitly calls one side monstrous and the other virtuous. Edgeworth also doesn't trust the reader to judge rightly which love interest Belinda should marry--she suddenly writes one as though all he does is rescue curates and innocent girls, and the other as an inveterate gambler and liar. The only character who survives this reformation is Lady Delacour, whose courage and satiric mind remain undimmed despite her adoption of a more domestic (and thus, virtuous) lifestyle. Lady Delacour is a character for the ages, as witty as Wilde's and as emotionally complex as Woolf's. For her alone, this book is worth reading.
( )
3 vote wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Set in the late 18thC, and a great, sparkling read. The eponymous heroine, Belinda, is sent by her bossy matchmaking aunt to stay with the fashionable Lady Delacour, in the hopes of her meeting an eligible young man and making a suitable match.
Lady D is beautiful, still only in her 30s, but bored with life, and with her boozy husband. She has let strangers bring up her daughter, fearing to become too attached to her, as her first babies have died. She also hides a terrible secret: she believes she has breast cancer, brought on by the recoil of a pistol against her breast when she was pretending to fight a female duel! She's encouraged in this belief by a quack doctor who endangers her life with his drugs.
Belinda is a charming, intelligent, thoughtful girl, who has several suitors, but chooses the equally charming, intelligent Clarence Hervey, once some apparent mysteries in his life have been cleared up. She also reunites the estranged Lord and Lady Delacour, and their little girl Helena.
The charm of this book lies in the casually revealed details of 18thC life, which her readers would have identified with: don't breastfeed your own child; women have great difficulty walking in the great hooped dresses used at Court and sometimes fall over; the "rantipole" Harriet Freke dresses as a man to fight her duel.
1 vote PollyMoore3 | Oct 27, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maria Edgeworthprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kirkpatrick, Kathryn J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A prudence undeceiving, undeceived/That nor too little, nor too much believed;/That scorned unjust Suspicion's coward fear/And without weakness knew to be sincere. (Lord LYTTELTON's Monody on his Wife)
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Mrs Stanhope, a well-bred woman, accomplished in that branch of knowledge, which is called the art of rising in the world, had, with but a small fortune, contrived to live in the highest company.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192837095, Paperback)

The lively comedy of this novel in which a young woman comes of age amid the distractions and temptations of London high society belies the challenges it poses to the conventions of courtship, the dependence of women, and the limitations of domesticity. Contending with the perils and the varied cast of characters of the marriage market, Belinda strides resolutely toward independence. Admired by her contemporary, Jane Austen, and later by Thackeray and Turgenev, Edgeworth tackles issues of gender and race in a manner at once comic and thought-provoking. The 1802 text used in this edition also confronts the difficult and fascinating issues of racism and mixed marriage, which Edgeworth toned down in later editions.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:45 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The lively comedy of this novel in which a young woman comes of age amid the distractions and temptations of London high society belies the challenges it poses to the conventions of courtship, the dependence of women, and the limitations of domesticity. Contending with the perils and the varied cast of characters of the marriage market, Belinda strides resolutely toward independence. Admired by her contemporary, Jane Austen, and later by Thackeray and Turgenev, Edgeworth tackles issues of gender and race in a manner at once comic and thought-provoking.… (more)

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