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In Maria Edgeworth’s Belinda, the titular heroine tries to negotiate the difficulties of the marriage market in high-society London. There are numerous traps and pitfalls in Belinda’s journey: the dissipated Lady Delacour, the dashing but flawed Creole suitor Mr. Vincent, and the irresponsible Clarence Hervey. Staying at Lady Delacour’s home, Belinda is introduced to a dazzling world of balls and operas, but she soon sees through the façade of her host’s cheeriness to the decay and deformity that plagues Lady Delacour. While trying to reform Lady Delacour and wean her from her extravagant yet shallow lifestyle, Belinda gets to know Clarence Hervey. Hervey’s own morals, however, are dubious at best. His involvement with a mysterious other woman leads Belinda to the brink of a marriage with Mr. Vincent, who appears to be everything Hervey is not—but Vincent, in fact, conceals his own crucial weakness. Through it all, Belinda struggles to maintain her independence and reason, promoting education and self-development as the center of one’s moral compass.
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Opening Lines (Experimental)
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. She prided herself upon having established half a dozen nieces most happily, ...
Reviewed by angellars on May 21, 2011
The character of Lady Delacour was well-drawn and fascinating. It's unfortunate, I think, that Belinda - prudent, steadfast Belinda - is the title character when she's not half as interesting.
About a third of the way through the novel the story becomes very moralizing, showing how everything can be solved with prudence. It gets tiresome.
The way the story is told also has a very heavy-handed feel, as if the author thinks they must reveal everything by way of one character or the other just telling everyone what has happened.
I gave this book a three because I like Lady Delacour and because, despite its fault, it was an interesting read.
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Ratings for 'Belinda' by Edgeworth, Maria