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Cecilia: Memoirs of an Heiress

Cecilia: Memoirs of an Heiress by Fanny Burney
By: (1752-1840)

The plot of Cecilia revolves around the heroine, Cecilia Beverley, whose inheritance from her uncle comes with the stipulation that she find a husband who will accept her name. This proves impossible, and she gives up her fortune to marry for love.

Jane Austen referred to Cecilia and other novels in her novel, Northanger Abbey: “’And what are you reading, Miss — ?’ ‘Oh! It is only a novel!’ replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. ‘It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda’; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best–chosen language. The title of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice may have been inspired by a passage at the end of Cecilia: “remember: if to pride and prejudice you owe your miseries, so wonderfully is good and evil balanced, that to pride and prejudice you will also owe their termination.”

First Page:

CECILIA

OR

Memoirs of an Heiress

by

FRANCES BURNEY

PREFACE

"Fanny's Cecilia came out last summer, and is as much liked and read, I believe, as any book ever was," wrote Charlotte Burney in Jan. 1783. "She had 250 pounds for it from Payne and Cadell. Most people say she ought to have had a thousand. It is now going into the third edition, though Payne owns that they printed two thousand at the first edition, and Lowndes told me five hundred was the common number for a novel." [Footnote: The Early Diary of Frances Burney, with a selection from her correspondence, and from the journals of her sisters Susan and Charlotte Burney. Edited by Annie Raine Ellis. 1889. Vol. II. p. 307.]

The manuscript of Cecilia was submitted to Dr Burney and Mr Crisp during its composition, and their suggestions were in some cases adopted, as we learn from the Diary . Dr Johnson was not consulted, but a desire at once to imitate and to please him evidently controlled the work.

Under these circumstances it is naturally less fresh and spontaneous than Evelina , but it is more mature... Continue reading book >>


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Reviews (Rated: 2 Stars - 1 review)

April 27, 2015
Such an excellent story. However, it's very frustrating listening to as the readers are very poor at it. The first hacks her way through with no sense of cadence whatsoever. The second reads like a freight train. The following 4 readers are barely understandable due to thick dialects. I'm only partway through and am tempted to give it up entirely, but am too caught up in the story to do so. I do hope someone with some ability will come into the narration!


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