The final fuller thoughts on Evelina as the bookgroup comes to an end.
Rather than jump the shark, Evelina throws in the dressed monkey...what a strange way to end what has been a brilliant book. Some fairly minor comedy character is savaged by a dressed up monkey. It was nice to have the good Captain back, I liked his continued ribbing of Lord Lovell for the stupid comment the Lord made all those months ago. Loves the way he builds it up, winding him up about paying serious money to show friends that he is alive.
However, Lovell is so easy to take the piss out of (I mean, his fake modesty is so incredibly fake, even when he is surrounded by fake people) and we have Mrs Selwyn doing a terrific job of taking the piss without Captain Mirven’s tender ministrations. Another wonderful line from her, “Don’t be angry with the gentleman for thinking, whatever be the cause for I assure you he makes no common practice in offending that way.” - No wonder the Thrale set convinced Fanny to write a play, though I think it odd when none of them particularly like Mrs Selwyn, when I would have liked her in the book much earlier on.
As for the bulk of the section - well, the man to man chat was interesting. Firstly, it must be only time we hear characters talk frankly about their intentions and about Evelina - I still don’t hate poor ol’ Clement Willoughby, it is obvious that he does love Evelina and it is his fecklessness and stupid money that stops him being the sort of fun loving but serious lover that I’d have wanted for Evelina. However, he is a rotter - writing that letter ‘from’ Orville, and his final letter, anyone else’s heart melt, or just me?
As for Orville, I learnt to like him. I even learnt to like him and I am sure he and Evelina will be very happy. Nah, I’m being to harsh on him, as he got more passionate, I loved him more. He became a good match for her - he will love and respect her and treat her good.
As for the whole Lord Belmont/Fake Lady Belmont/McCartney stuff - I understood what was happening, but it’s pretty stupid. Poor ol’ Fake Lady Belmont, losing her identity in one go, and what a stupid man Lord Belmont is, bringing up a kid who looks nothing like him or wife and then all the snivelling and crying...and what happened to the Branghtons? And Madam Duvall?
In total, I found the whole last chunk rather disappointing, though not at the time, it’s only thinking about it after then time that has brought the disappointment.
Still, in summary I think that Evelina is a very enjoyable and gripping book and that Fanny Burney has an eye for character details that raises her as a writer, and a sly viscousness that gives her a dash of interest and danger. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
I’d love to do another one of these soonish, maybe August (I got the month off) - I’d like to do ‘The Female Quixote’ by Charlotte Lennox.