I have crazily decided to join the Clarissa in April group, although I am currently feeling slightly pessimistic about my chances of completing this gigantic novel in a month, but stranger things have happened. Due to various financial and timings issues, having only decided to undertake this challenge on April 2nd and Amazon not having the copy I wanted in stock, I have opted to read this on my Kindle, if anything it will be good for my arms and will probably be easier to carry about in my handbag, than the Penguin Classics doorstop. It also has the advantage of being able to make quick notes on various parts of the text without the need of a pen, thus enabling me to keep track of my thoughts and the plot as whole.
I have just reached Letter 32 of ???? (I haven’t been able to discover how many letters are in this book, so if anyone would like to help me out I would appreciate it) and I am already beginning to hate certain characters and wonder how Clarissa will get out of her particular predicament. Clarissa is currently in isolation, her family having essentially locked her away, banning all communications with the outside world simply because she is refusing to marry Mr Solmes, a man has only been chosen by her controlling brother and sister as a means of getting Clarissa out of the way. Don’t fear though, as she is smuggling letters out to Miss Anna Howe through a loose floor board in a chicken coop, so all is not lost.
Now the villain of the novel is quite clearly Mr Lovelace, and I know this because of ‘Faulks on Fiction’, the main reason I wanted to read Clarissa in the first place, but until I read Letter 31 (which is from Lovelace to a friend) he had been a background character, more of a reason that Clarissa was in isolation than a truly terrible villain; that role is currently reserved for Clarissa’s brother. Ironically it is Clarissa who is first to sum up Lovelace’s character, stating ‘I fancy it is many, many years ago since he was bashful,’ whilst her family are busy singing his praises, thinking Clarissa is capable of turning Lovelace into a reformed character. They then undergo a HUGE u-turn, accusing Clarissa of encouraging his feelings and being a disobedient and unworthy child. All in all it is a tad confusing, but beginning to unravel, so I am a happy reader!
The beauty of reading this novel as a 21st century reader, and possibly the downfall as well, is that you are always acutely aware of the archaic attitude to women and the power any man in the family, not only your father, but brothers and uncles, had over a woman. Clarissa’s mother sums it up perfectly; ‘Ah, girl, never say your heart is free! You deceive yourself if you think it is.’ Highlighting the difficulties Clarissa, and all women of the 1700s faced. On the whole I am enjoying the novel so far, and blocking out the sheet enormity of the challenge so as not to scare myself.
I did take a break from reading to venture to a local town, and to a beautiful shop called Serendipity, where I was able to purchase a fantastically huge Cath Kidston mug, for all that tea to keep me going through my reading sessions, a lovely coaster (is that’s how you spell it?!?) and an adorable card for my friend’s birthday, so I am beautifying this post with pictures of these, as a photo of my Kindle as a book representative is dull.
My shopping trip was not a complete success. I though I had found a book buying bargain, regarding Philippa Gregory’s ‘The Lady of the Rivers’ and Elizabeth Speller’s ‘The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton’, both books I have been anxious to read for a while, being a huge Philippa Gregory fan and having devoured Speller’s first novel last summer. Sadly on getting to the till, I found out those pesky retailers had fooled me, and so I practised some self-control and did not buy the books. This was probably a wise decision as I have an ever growing pile of books I own but have yet to read and the Kindle and reading other blogs has not helped this addiction in the slightest. Andrew Miller’s ‘Pure’ and Jessica Frances Kane’s ‘The Report’ have become new editions to the ‘to read’ list thanks to Charlotte Reads Classics and her reviews on both books. I think this is going to be a tough month for self control!