Thursday 10 May 2018

Book Review: Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

Title: Clarissa
Samuel Richardson
Signet Classics

Publication Date: 2014 (1748)
Bought Copy


Defying her parents’ desire for her to marry a loathsome man for his wealth, the virtuous Clarissa escapes into the dangerous arms of the charming rogue Lovelace, whose intentions are much less than honorable. This thought-provoking work, written entirely in intimate letters, exposes the delicacy and complexity of affairs of the human heart. The fatal attraction between villain and victim builds and unfolds into a relationship that haunts the imagination as fully as that of Romeo and Juliet or Tristan and Isolde.

Wow! What a great read! I already loved the story, having seen the Sean Bean TV version, but it was even better as a novel. Even though I knew what was coming, I was glued to each letter, desperate to hear what would happen next. I actually, unintentionally, ended up buying an abridged version, so this was 500 pages long instead of 1500. However, the abridgement was neatly done. Only once or twice did it feel obvious that something was missing between letters. Lovelace is such a lovable rogue. I know Richardson will hate me for saying this (as he did contemporary readers who felt the same way), but I am a little in love with him despite his faults. The style of this book is very much of its period, so to read it, you need to be open to that and not expect sentence structure and style like we are used to in modern time. For a lover of the 18th century classics, though, this is a must read! I suspect it is one I will come back to and reread in the future, maybe in its entirety next time.

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