So basically, there's a rumor regarding some foul play and unjust treatment of a suitor circulating about the Harlowe family. Anna Howe decides to get to the bottom of these rumors and so begins the longest correspondence in history. It seems there has been a suitor of Clarissa's older sister, but she rejected him and after a nanosecond during which he caught a glimpse of Clarissa, he decided that actually Clarissa was the better deal after all, much to the chagrin of the older sister. Clarissa thinks this guy, Mr. Lovelace, is a bit of a rake and having much higher matrimonial ambitions for herself, puts him off and except for the original encouragement of the family would have nothing further to do with him. But Mr. Lovelace's continual courtship of Clarissa is too much to bear for the older sister, who drags the older brother into the matter challenging Mr. Lovelace to a duel and forever sullying Mr. Lovelace presence and ambitions toward the Harlowe family. (Side note: Mr. Lovelace is a rake and a no-good womanizer...)
The family somehow instead finds what they deem to be a suitable match for Clarissa, a Mr. Solmes, who is completely and utterly repugnant to Clarissa. She has begged confinement to a nunnery or certain death over any union with Mr. Solmes, who nevertheless doggedly/lethargically pursues her. How can one be both dogged and lethargic? Well despite constant, never-ending refusals he waits in the guest room unperturbed as the linen for Clarissa's trousseau is procured. Yet, the family does all of the intense courtship, which involves imprisonment in her room, seizure of all correspondence and a never ending stream of family disapproval and disavowal unless she concedes to their will.
Finally after resisting Mr. Lovelace for 200 pages...it seems like he is looking like her best option. If she is still banished to her room 200 pages from now writing letters secretly to her dear friend Miss. Howe...I think I might have a break down. This book could use a little more action and a little less endless discussion.