A book written by someone younger than 30, Evelina by Fanny Burney
This book made its way onto my 2017 challenge out of pure fan girl holdover from graduate school. I registered late my first semester of school and missed out on the literature elective that year. I had to take a class about the theories of the foundational documents of the US and where the founders drew their inspiration. It was actually a really amazing class, but at the time I was very disappointed to miss out on the literature elective, and I tried to read along with the students on my own time. I wanted to be able to participate in the discussions that leaked into our classes from the literature they were exploring. Evelina was on the list, and sadly, I never got around to reading it before school ended. This year, I finally carved out some time to explore it, and boy, was I disappointed…
Maybe it was a timing thing. I was smack in the middle of this when I got engaged, then a few days later I flew to Seattle for a week-long vacation. In my engagement glow, I had no time or thoughts for reading, and while I had big plans to finish this book on vacation, I just couldn’t get into it once I had put it down. This was back in August. I tried so many times to finish it, but the longer I waited, the less able I was to pursue it. By sheer force of will, I managed to finish, but it was a struggle. I own that this one may be on me due to all the fun things going on in my life, but it’s also partly Burney’s fault as a writer, and here’s why.
Too damn long. I read this on my Kindle, so I don’t know how long it actually was, but it felt TOO DAMN LONG. Like, endlessly long. Like how am I still only 45% done and I have been reading this for ten years long. Ok, not really but you get my drift. What a snoozefest. I am sure this was the style back then, but it really dragged, particularly about halfway through. If she had condensed some of the plot and characters, it would have been a far better novel. Which leads me to my next point.
Too damn convoluted. There are so many characters, it’s almost impossible to keep things straight, especially when you continually pick the book up and put it down. About halfway through the plot because so convoluted with all of these characters and love triangles and subplots, as a reader I just couldn’t be invested enough in any one thing to stick with the book. I just felt like, why do I care? About any of this? If things had been a little simplified, less farcical, maybe it would have resonated with me on a deeper level. I’m sure this says more about me as a modern reader than Fanny Burney’s writing style, but hey, you’re reading my review, so there.
To summarize, I was disappointed. I had placed this book on a pedestal for so many years and in the end, it was like a poor man’s Jane Austen for me. And between you and I, I absolutely hate Jane Austen’s writing, so that is probably one of the meanest things I can say about a book.