Clarissa, Letters 1 – 15

by Charlotte Reads Classics

The year has begun with a very long book, and so I don’t lose the plot (heh) I will be making an ongoing commentary of Clarissa. I did this most of the way through War and Peace so I could remember all the little details I loved. I won’t explicitly put in any twists (if there are any, I don’t know yet), but this commentary will discuss the plot so please don’t read if you don’t want to know the events of Clarissa!

Letters 1 – 15, January 10th – March 3rd

Clarissa is writing to her friend Miss Howe concerning the details of her family’s introduction to Mr. Lovelace. At first he is treated as a friend of the family with designs on her older sister, Arabella. Arabella is vain, and flatters herself with this supposed attention, which comes to nothing. Her opinion of Mr. Lovelace quickly turns sour, and is supported by her brother James. If this was a battle, I’d say a small skirmish breaks out, James is wounded, and Lovelace contrite. Clarissa is sent to stay with her friend Miss Howe, whilst her family concerns themselves with seeing her married off. On her return home, Clarissa is horrified to discover her family’s plot of having her marry Mr. Solmes. She discovers the motivations to be that her brother is jealous of the estate she received in her grandfather’s will, and her sister wants to see her married to prevent her from marrying Lovelace. In the last letter of this bundle Miss Howe consoles Clarissa about her impending marriage.

Enjoyable quotes so far:

If a man could not make a lady in courtship own herself pleased with him, it was as much and oftentimes more to his purpose to make her angry with him. (Letter 3)

My reading so far is going ok, although the language is more tricky than I thought it would be. The novel was written just a little bit earlier (1747) than others I have read, so the slightly unfamiliar turn of phrase is something I will have to get used to as I read on. At the moment reading is requiring more concentration than usual. My main challenge with this book so far is working out how to read comfortably! This book is huge: It is so tall as well as thick that I’m trying to find a way of holding it up without serious arm ache! Still, I’d pick paper and ink over a soulless imitation any day, sore arm or no…

I’m also trying to get used to reading more than one book at a time. I’m reading Clarissa in bed at night (and early in the morning) but continuing with Great Expectations in the day. This has resulted in me feeling a bit like I’m not reading much of either! Still I am liking the bedtime book experience and am already planning what would be a good one to read next. I’m thinking The Diaries of Samuel Pepys. But mustn’t get ahead of myself because I think I’ll be reading Clarissa for the foreseeable future.