Thursday, May 10, 2012

Clarissa - Samuel Richardson

So I'm 200 pages in, with another 1,300 to go and I have a feeling this is going to be just as painful as I imagined. To give myself goals and benchmarks I decided to check in every 200 pages or so and give a brief summary, while I eat copious amounts of chocolate as a reward.

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 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. 


  1. I read this book for a college lit class during my semester abroad at Queens in Belfast, N Ireland. Basically the only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that I could afterwards announce that I had read the longest book written in English in the history of the world. So, I guess pride and bragging rights are a powerful motivator...not sure I should be proud or bragging about that!

    PS I love this idea of reading through a great books' list and blogging on it. So much fun! Someday when I have all my children pottytrained maybe I will try it....

    Esther Howe

  2. Thanks for your comment Esther! It has been a fun project, each month it gets harder and harder to do it though...I might have to stick to plays for a while.

    I actually just picked this book up again, the only thing worse than reading it once is having to go back and reread it to try and remember where I left off and get caught up on significant plot details. I think it's totally worth bragging about that you finished this book...maybe the competitve side of me will take that as a challenge and I'll actually finish it this time. I must...I will...

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