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Cecilia: or Memoirs of an Heiress [Paperback]

Fanny Burney
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 9 2008 Oxford World's Classics
Cecilia is an heiress, but she can only keep her fortune if her husband will consent to take her surname. Fanny Burney's unusual love story and deft social satire was much admired on its first publication in 1782 for its subtle interweaving of comedy, humanity, and social analysis. Controversial in its time, this eighteenth-century novel seems entirely fresh in relation to late twentieth-century concerns.

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Cecilia: or Memoirs of an Heiress + Camilla: Picture of Youth + Penguin English Library Evelina
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Review

'scholarly edition ... a welcome addition to the roster of available eighteenth-century texts ... Scholars will undoubtedly prefer this edition of Cecilia for its textual accuracy and will appreciate the help that the various appendices and the annotation will give to students' Elizabeth Brophy, College of New Rochelle, Eighteenth-Century Fiction

About the Author

Peter Sabor is Professor of English at Queen's University, Ontario. Margaret Anne Doody is Professor of English at Princeton.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly Modern Dec 4 2001
Format:Paperback
Oh what a treat! Don't be dismayed by the length, this is delightful! Unlike most authors of long fiction, Burney actually manages to stay on task and not wander into thoughts of war and whatever. This book is 941 pages because 941 pages of things happen. This is the story of Cecilia, a young heiress from the country. When her family dies she is left with three guardians: the proud Mr. Delvile, the miserly Mr. Briggs, and the husband of her childhood friend, Mr. Harrel. She moves in with the Harrels and is escorted into the London high life - parties, visiting, the opera, and scores of gentleman anxious to make the acquaintence of a beautiful heiress. Cecilia is not impressed. The commentary on 18th Century London life is scathing - and remarkably apropos to modern life as well.
One night at a masquerade ball she is saved from the devil, or a partier dressed as such, by a charming man in a domino, the first real person Cecilia has met. He knows who she is, where she comes from, and who her guardians are, but Cecilia cannot even discover his name. At the end of the evening he disappears, but the seeds of love are planted - if only Cecilia knew who he was! Thoughts of her new acquaintence are interrupted though, as she realizes that the Harrels are quickly going in to more debt than they will every be able to pay off, and their party train is not slowing down for the emminent crash to come.
The most amazing thing about this book is how modern it is. Though set in the late 18th century, the problems and scenarios transfer easily into our modern conscious. One of the central issues in the novel is that Cecilia will lose her inheritance if whoever she marries does not take her last name. Have we as a society yet gotten over this? Not by a long shot.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Why isn't Fanny Burney famous? May 12 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Why isn't Fanny Burney famous? That's exactly what I began to wonder after a friend convinced me that I should read Evelina. I thought I hated 18th century literature based on the class I took on it in college--if only we had read Fanny Burney then!
She writes with wit and style--it's easy to see why Jane Austen admired her so much! Even though this book is very lengthy, it is not possible to get bored reading it, and although times have changed a lot since Fanny Burney's time, the book still seems alive and relevant to modern readers as many of the unfortunate realities of society that Cecilia struggles with are still with us today in different forms. The characters in this novel are so real you will feel like you know them by the end of the book. Some of the chapters are so funny you will find yourself laughing out loud! I think Fanny Burney deserves to be much more famous. It would be wonderful if someone would make a film of this novel to help spread the word that Fanny Burney's books are great reading!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Money and Love Aug. 19 2001
By Alison
Format:Paperback
As a fan of Jane Austen, and now Fanny Burney, I had high expectations for this novel. The only reason why I don't give it 5 stars is that it wasn't my favorite Burney novel....and I was expecting a pure love story. The love story part of the book is good, but it is not as satisfying as the deep romance between Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy... or even that of Camilla and Edgar in Burney's Camilla. However, the plot is very interesting as it taught me a lot about money in this time period (making other novels of this time more easily understood). The footnotes in this edition, while frequent, are very helpful and informative. I finally have some grasp of the value of each type of coin that is mentioned in all of these types of novels. And MONEY is central to this book, more so than love, I think. It is a story about those who have it, those who want it, those who steal it, those who abuse it, and those who are willing to give it all away. This is all very interesting and tied up with a love story, but don't expect it to be a pure romance like Camilla. It is a great novel, but for a change, Burney decides not to give her readers the perfect sweet and sappy plot that we take for granted.
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