When JoAnn at Lakeside Musing and Terri at Tip of the Iceberg announced their idea for a year-long read along of Samuel Richardson’s epic Clarissa, I realized I had my chance to approach a book I knew I should read, but never had made time to read. Just looking at the book might intimidate the most voracious reader: I wouldn’t want to drop it on my toe, for fear it would break it. But somehow it seemed more likely that I’d actually finish it if I was reading it with a group, so I jumped in!
Obviously, I’ve have had a terrible blogging month for a number of reasons – but it hasn’t actually been a bad reading month. So tonight I’m sharing my thoughts on the January readings for Clarissa.
To begin, I am amazed at how “modern” the book is. Clarissa Harlowe is not, as I had feared, some Victorian milquetoast heroine. She is a young woman with a mind of her own, politic enough to realize that the unusual bequest her grandfather has left her puts her in a precarious position vis-à-vis her jealous siblings.
Lovelace is an ambiguous love interest thus far. Clarissa is not impressed by him at the beginning of the book. But there is something extremely appealing about him, especially in his distaste for Clarissa’s vile brother James. It was frightening to consider how much power a male child had over a female child within a family, even though he had no real accomplishments of his own.
I am not sure I trust Miss Howe at this point. She seems to be a very close friend of Clarissa’s, but her flowery and supercilious writing leaves me wondering about her sincerity. However I am absolutely unsure as to whether or not that is a function of the time and place that the book was written – so I’m reserving judgment for the moment. We’ll see if she is truly friend to Clarissa in the end, or if she is harboring some ulterior motives.
I am so glad that I signed on to participate in the read along, and if you haven’t yet, feel free to join us – there’s a whole year of fun to come, and you can easily catch up! It’s early in the read, but I am already enjoying this more than I expected, so I am eager to see that February’s letters bring to our heroine. The links to the January Clarissa links are at Tip of the Iceberg.