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This is the fourth and final novel by Fanny Burney, the author of Evelina, Cecilia, and Camilla. "Who is "Miss Ellis?" Why did she board a ship from France to England at the beginning of the French revolution? Anyway, the loss of her purse made this strange "wanderer" dependent upon the charity of some good people and, of course, bad ones. But she always comforts herself by reminding herself that it's better than "what might have been..." This is not only a mystery, not at all. It's also a romance which reminds readers of novels by Jane Austen. Published in 1814, the same year as Mansfield Park, it shares some themes with it. It is also very modern, speaking freely of independent women (like Elinor), weak male characters, and unrequited love. Yes, a love triangle is lurking behind the scenes, and, in this case, it is not clear if the happy ending is suitable. At the time when it was published, critics did not like this political novel, and said that the difficulties which "Ellis" faced while trying to support herself were clearly fictional. However, don't let this deter you. It's a wonderful and mature novel, ahead of it's time by about 100 years. Happy reading!
I can't remember who said something like, "the problem is with the beginning and the end. They're too far apart. And so I found Ms Burney's creation. I think she used up all the commas, semicolons and clauses of one form or another in circulation at the time. The problem was that I was captivated by the mystery and very much wanted to find the solution to the mystery/love story. So I hung in with it to the bittersweet end.
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