Evelina, or, the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World. I was familiar with the spunky author but not her actual work so I was long, long overdue to give a Burney book a try. The further and further I got into the book the more ashamed I was with myself for not reading Evelina sooner, where has this book been all my life! I laughed, rolled my eyes, gasped with scandalized shock, and whined to a bewildered Lauren about how things were just not going in the happy ending direction that I so wanted. It was fantastic.
Evelina is the epistolary tale about a teenage orphan who has been kindly raised by a charitable vicar due to her mother's premature death and father's estrangement. Living happily in the country all her life she is invited to leave her beloved foster father for the first time to be a guest of the Mirvan family. An unexpected arrival of Captain Mirvan, the bulsterous patron of the family sends the Mirvans and Evelina with them to London where a Pandora's box of experiences now lay before the naive, but beautiful country girl who is now the attention to many of the men of London. First there is Mr. Lovel, the macaroni whom Evelina instantly offends, then the dashing Lord Orville, and of course the tedious Sir Clement Willoughby who can't seem to leave Evelina alone, much to her chagrin. But it is when Evelina's long lost French grandmother arrives looking for her, that Evelina finds her life has gotten more complicated than it ever was. What's a girl to do?
Fans of Jan Austen will immediately see why Fanny Burney was an influence of the famous author. Both lady-writers capture their scenery and immerse the reader into the story; you feel the main character's pain and rejoice with her victory. The characters are varied from the stoic Evelina to the hilarious and mischievous Captain Mirvan or sarcastic Mrs Selwyn, who were both favourites of mine. Any and every Austenite should pick up this book although its appeal crosses many genre's. It was my guy-friend, Joel who lent me his copy of Evelina; so I can honestly say I would recommend this book to anyone, which I've already been doing with great enthusiasm.
There are a variety of editions Evelina which was originally published in 1778. I read Broadview's edition (which is now sold with an unfortunate cover rather than the appropriate Canaletto which graced mine) edited by Susan Kubica whose delightful footnotes added to my pleasure of the book. There is also a free e-book edition offered by Girlebooks.