December so far has been a great month for me. Last weekend we decorated our Christmas tree, drank mulled wine and watched Muppet’s Christmas Carol (yes, that was all in one glorious day) so I’m definitely feeling festive! Work is hectically busy but whilst I’ve been madly tired, I’ve enjoyed sitting around reading Clarissa in the evenings whilst it is dark and cold outside.
I am ever so slightly ahead of schedule and am now into the August letters. I’ll do a quick summary of June and July and then I’ll write more non-spoilery things afterwards.
In June: She is still prisoner in the house, which catches fire (a bit) and in the ensuing chaos Lovelace gets into Clarissa’s bedroom and attempts to seduce her. Clarissa manages to run away to Hampstead, but Lovelace manages to find her. He tricks her back to the original house in London (this is a real spoiler so I’ll give you another warning to skip over it) makes her lose her senses and then her honour. After a while she manages to escape again and the month ends with her finally getting back in touch with Miss Howe.
In July: A lot of the letters between Clarissa and Anna are working out that Lovelace had been forging their letters to each other. Clarissa is really ill from her massive trauma and is unsurprisingly incredibly depressed. Really annoyingly, when Anna, Mrs Howe and several of Lovelace’s female relations find out what has happened to Clarissa they think the best solution is still for Clarissa to marry Lovelace. Clarissa has to write millions of letters saying she never will. Lovelace has sent his friend Belford to find things out about Clarissa and what she is up to. He doesn’t seem to think he’s done anything wrong (bastard) and that he can still win her over. Belford, however, is more sympathetic towards Clarissa. At the end of July Clarissa has written to her sister and has hinted in her letters that she would like to be if not forgiven by her family, then at least not hated.
Making myself go back and give Clarissa proper attention is what this book needs. Where I was once stalling, I can now wholeheartedly write that I LOVE THIS BOOK. And also, finally, I love Clarissa herself. Initially I wasn’t sure because she seemed virtuous and not much else. Now I realise that she is less one-dimensional when you pay attention to what is unspoken. I mean, you don’t as an eighteenth century woman write about how much you desire a less than virtuous man in your letters. But equally, you don’t run away with a man you find repulsive. So yes, she’s virtuous, but she is tempted too. And as more unpleasant things happen, her strength of character really shines.
After the first few months of letters, I never thought Clarissa would become so compelling, I can’t stress more that if you’ve started it you should pick it back up! You won’t regret it.