Read Emmeline by Charlotte Turner Smith Online


The plot of Charlotte Smith's autobiographical first novel Emmeline (1788) includes the expected thrills of the eighteenth-century courtship novel: abduction, duels, and a "fairy-tale princess."At the same time, the novel satirically reworks such literary conventions by focusing on the dangers of early engagement and marriage, and challenges a social and legal system in whThe plot of Charlotte Smith's autobiographical first novel Emmeline (1788) includes the expected thrills of the eighteenth-century courtship novel: abduction, duels, and a "fairy-tale princess."At the same time, the novel satirically reworks such literary conventions by focusing on the dangers of early engagement and marriage, and challenges a social and legal system in which women are inherently illegitimate subjects.This Broadview edition includes primary source material relating to the novel's reception; women, marriage, and work; and landscape in eighteenth-century fiction. Mary Hays's biographical writing on Smith is also included, as is selected correspondence....

Title : Emmeline
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ISBN : 9781551113593
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 520 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Emmeline Reviews

  • Grace Harwood
    2019-04-08 23:02

    The edition I have of this is from Charlotte Turner Smith, "Works" on Kindle from The Perfect Library. Whilst the kindle editions of eighteenth century novels are never great, it is here in it's entirety (which is more than I can say for The Old Manor House in the same collection - where volume three is missing). However, this is not so much a review of the edition as the work itself, which I LOVED.Emmeline is Mrs Smith's first novel and represented the early stages of her desperate attempts to make enough money from her writing to sustain herself and her many children. The story is traditional romantic eighteenth century fayre - Emmeline, the eponymous protagonist, is young and beautiful (and never sufficiently described, just to be sure that her readers can all romantically imagine themselves in her position!) and basically any man who comes across her, falls in love with her. Not only does she receive offers from the elderly steward of a castle, but also the volatile Lord Delamere (her cousin) who then proceeds to make a nuisance of himself through four volumes of Emmeline's struggles to survive whilst she is understood to be "the natural daughter" (i.e. illegitimate child) of a Lord, whose brother then carelessly provides for her (only his idea of providing for her is to give her money when he feels like it - which is not often). She also falls prey to a volatile Frenchman (who similarly falls in love with her and makes a nuisance of himself), an elderly financier called Rochely, and the honourable Godolphin, who represents the only rational male in the whole text. The character of Mrs Stafford is particularly interesting as she is based on the author herself. Similarly, the feckless Mr Stafford is based on her real-life husband, Benjamin Turner, (whose inventive use of wigs in order to enrich arable land really cheered me up). Both Mrs Stafford and the character of Adelina have been forced to marry early in the novel (as Smith herself was - marrying at just 15); and this book really is a diatribe against early marriage.Volume IV is the weakest of the volumes - obviously written in a hurry as Mrs Smith probably needed the money. During this final volume, Emmeline actually opens the caskets left to her by her deceased parents (bearing in mind that she's had them in her possession for 17 years by this point) and reads the correspondence therein, and finds, lo and behold! that she is the legitimate daughter of the house of Mowbray and worth a lot of money. The last few pages then cover her recovery of her fortune, her assistance to Mrs Stafford, and marrying her lover, Godolphin. It's all's well that ends well, but one cannot help but think that if Emmeline had just opened the casket and read the letters when they were first given to her (or when she was first able to read) she'd have saved herself around four volumes of misery.This is the stuff of romantic fiction; and yet, one cannot deny that in it Smith is making an important point. As Fletcher notes in her introduction to smith's Celestina "... her art is highly ambitious, analysing England’s economic and political ills in the sugar-coating of romantic fiction, and offering domestic, specifically female struggles as fit subjects for that elitist form, the sonnet." (p. 44) This novel astutely picks up on the fact that for eighteenth-century women, marriage really was a business transaction, and one in which they had very little say. For example, poor old Emmeline is forced to sign a contract that she will accept Delamere, but she really has no feelings for him at all beyond that of a sister. When she meets Godolphin and realises that she is in love with him, she is powerless to break that contract until Delamere ditches her first. Similarly, even when he does this she is too afraid of Delamere's volatile temper (he has quite a few tantrums in the novel when he doesn't get his own way) to break it to him that she has met someone else. Part romantic novel, part social criticism, part conduct book for eighteenth-century women, and an important lesson in managing your temper and not over-indulging your children, this is a fabulous story. I can't recommend it enough.

  • Bethany Johnsen
    2019-03-24 20:14

    Be sure your smelling salts are at hand before picking up this sensational bestseller of 1788, because it truly has it all—the dissipations of fashion; scandal; affairs; duels; libertines seducing married women of virtue; husbands as dissolute as they are wealthy; repentant former libertines whose integrity is retrieved from their career of dissipation through an heart still sensible; repining fallen women driven to near derangement through sensibility of the stain on their character; illegitimate offspring; pseudoillegitimate offspring who, in a shocking plot twist that no one could foresee, turn out to be deserving heiresses to a large fortune; connivers who scheme to separate the virtuous from their rightful fortunes; faithful servants; conversations that cannot take place before the servants; violent passions; incurable affections; fainting; more fainting; heroines more dead than alive; attempted rape deflected by virtue; the shedding of manly tears; forgiveness and redemption; and of course, a happy marriage to reward the virtuous with as perfect a felicity as we can expect this side of heaven.My only disappointment with this eminent work is that its most wicked characters—Bellozane, the Crofts—escape unpunished or, in the case of Lady Frances Crofts, insufficiently punished. The good should end happily and the bad, unhappily; that is what fiction means.

  • John Gillespie
    2019-04-13 21:58

    I learned about Emmeline from a chapter on its author in Not Just Jane. The life of Charlotte Turner Smith, as described in that book, provides many parallels to the plot of Emmeline. Despite having read many Victorian marriage dramas, I was surprised by the men in this novel. They are obsessive, irresponsible, and entitled, with only a few exceptions. The author's life, as well as the experiences of her female characters, demonstrates how dangerous and uncertain the institution of marriage was for women in the nineteenth century. Historical context aside, a long novel like Emmeline succeeds to the degree that one sympathizes with the characters, even the antagonists. In this regard I was well pleased overall with the book. While I felt a little bogged down by it in the middle, I woke up the morning after I finished it feeling like I missed the whole infuriating cast of characters. That's a good thing!

  • Kathy
    2019-03-23 22:20

    I was fortunate enough to read the Oxford edition with its many helpful, well-researched notes and references. A long book written something like 240 years ago but still speaks to the soul. I knew of the book years ago from mention by Jane Austen, but I never thought to look for it, nor did I think I would enjoy anything with "castle" in the title since I was not attracted to Gothic castle tales. I was wrong to categorize as I often am. The heroine is quite wonderful. It is a job to read the book as it clocks in at over 530 pages and I had to use reading glasses plus a magnifying glass, alas. I'm glad I did.

  • Patrizia
    2019-04-13 22:22

    Ho portato a termine la lettura di questo estenuante romanzo ('estenuante' è proprio l'aggettivo che mi è venuto più e più volte alla mente negli oltre due mesi che l'ho avuto sottomano) solo per colpa di un'improvvida recensione (contenuta in 'Not Just Jane', di Shelley DeWees), che formulava un confronto tra la Turner Smith e la Austen, a tutto vantaggio della prima. Al contrario, leggerlo mi ha confermato nella convinzione che la ventata di novità introdotta dall'autrice di P&P nella letteratura inglese (non per nulla la povera aveva avuto qualche difficoltà a trovare editori per i suoi romanzi) è in genere ampiamente sottovalutata. Nonostante avesse avuto una vita più eccitante e spregiudicata della riservata figlia del pastore di Steventon, la Turner Smith si lascia andare a un plot decisamente convenzionale, ancora settecentesco, pieno di peripezie (passioni, rapimenti, intrighi, inganni), dalle quali la protagonista, fino alla fine, sembra via via travolta, incapace di prendere una qualunque decisione autonoma.Mio Dio, anche la giovanissima e ingenua Katherine Morland avrebbe saputo fare di meglio.

  • Julie
    2019-04-14 03:24

    Great fun, a terrific read - and offered a fascinating insight into women's lives and concerns at the end of the eighteenth century.

  • Grace Harwood
    2019-04-19 23:57

    So this is Charlotte Smith’s first original novel and it shows all the promise of a woman with enormous literary talent. The story is as follows: Emmeline (the orphan of the castle), grows up as an orphan (unsurprisingly) in a practically ruined Welsh castle (nor there – the clue’s in the title, after all. Emmeline is the “natural daughter” i.e. illegitimate daughter of Lord Montreville’s now deceased brother. As such, she has no real claim to the family and has been left to rot in this setting along with an old housekeeper and steward. The setting is undeniably picturesque – although Smith was ahead of her time in writing of Wales as a Romantic setting. At around this time, it was fashionable for people of the “first society” to travel abroad on a Grand Tour. However, when the revolution occurred in France, and latterly the wars there, this became difficult and tourists instead turned to the sublime scenery of Wales and the lake district. However, at the time Smith was writing, the beauty of the Welsh scenery was probably not well known among illustrious travellers. Smith depicts the scene beautifully. She had (as Walter Scott termed it) the eye of a landscape painter; and her scene is depicted exactly in this manner. What the reader sees is a painting of a landscape, rather than an actual landscape. Sorry – got a bit lost on description of landscape – back to the review. Emmeline is the eminently sensible heroine (not romantic at all, despite her name) who is singled out by the volatile and unstable Delamere (her spoiled cousin) who spends all of volume one accosting, pestering, emotionally blackmailing and chasing her from place to place in an attempt to get her to agree to a “Scottish expedition” with him (i.e. an elopement to Gretna). Emmeline, realising that any woman who marries a man who is quite frankly as bonkers as Delamere is, is going to spend her life being miserable, manages to resist his horrible importunities of her. At the end of volume one, after Delamere’s father has repeatedly told him to leave poor Emmeline alone and desist from his attentions to her, Delamere decides to disappear. Adopting the name of an Irish lord, he disappears into lodgings in London.From there into volume two, where there’s pretty much more of the same for poor Emmeline. Delamere, refusing to take no for an answer, is driven to ever more excessive lengths to get his horrible mits on Emmeline and she is driven to ever more excessive lengths to avoid him. Eventually, she is forced to sign an agreement saying that she will marry him at the end of an expired period. Poor Emmeline really doesn’t want to do this but is forced into it by the fact that women have utterly no choice in refusing the men who force themselves upon them. Volumes three and four continue with Emmeline’s adventures, permitting her to meet the honourable Godolphin – a young handsome man with a fine house on the Isle of Wight, who poor Emmeline immediately falls for (who wouldn’t? Especially when you compare him with the utterly insane Delamere). There follows much to-ing and fro-ing with Emmeline feeling she can’t show her true feelings to Godolphin because of the wretched agreement she’s been forced to sign by Delamere. Smith skilfully guides the reader through all these obstacles to the (probably inevitable – although you couldn’t always rely on Smith for this) happy ending. At the end, Emmeline’s excuses for not admitting her love to Godolphin get a bit thin (referring to an Uncle who hasn’t bothered about her for three entire volumes smacked of an excuse to me) and one gets the feeling that Emmeline would probably have been happy not to have got married at all. (And there may be something in this – Smith’s marriage was notoriously unhappy).There’s lots going on in this book from social commentary to a Smith biographical figure in Mrs Stafford and her ridiculous husband (using old wigs to manure a field, which according to an article entitled “The Old Manor House” in The Mirror of Literature, Amusement and Instruction” of 25th August 1827, was based on a real idea at the time) to the debased morals of the upper classes in comparison with Emmeline’s more natural education. A great book, and if you enjoy it, I would recommend Smith’s later novel Montalbert (1795, I think) which tells the same story from a different angle, i.e. what would happen if the heroine did marry that volatile and unstable hero. I can't comment on this edition - I read it in an eighteenth-century online collection

  • Michael Cayley
    2019-04-04 01:27

    A best-seller when it appeared in the late 18th century, this is a delightful romp involving a beautiful orphaned girl, Emmeline, brought up as a poor illegitimate relation by her avaricious aristocratic uncle, her uncle's passionate and unbalanced son, wicked men of business, questions of inheritance, deceit and conspiracy, a "fallen woman" who has been seduced by a rake, a kind-hearted woman married to a spendthrift wastrel, a duel, and all manner of other delights. Emmeline steers her way through her own difficulties with composure, responds with sympathy and sense to the problems of others, sometimes shows an excessive sense of propriety which comes close to ruining her future happiness, and ends up with Mr Right. Along the way there is quite a bit of gentle satire of society and human vanity, and much celebration of the beauties of nature, including nature at its wildest. Several of the leading male characters are prone to giving way to their feelings with little reserve, and at times with unashamed tears.One of the main themes the novel is what makes for a good marriage, especially from the woman's viewpoint, and this is explored from a number of angles in different relationships. There is a compassionate treatment of illegitimacy and of a woman who has committed adultery. Aspects of the plot anticipate Victorian sensation fiction (of the kind Wilkie Collins wrote) but the style is very much late 18th century.Without giving anything away, many of Emmeline's difficulties could have been avoided if she had read papers relating to her parents when they came into her hands - but then we would not have had such an enjoyable novel, and she would probably have married Mr Wrong and lived unhappily ever after.

  • Susan O
    2019-04-05 20:08

    Emmeline, the orphaned daughter of the brother of Lord Montreville, was raised in obscurity on the estate that would have been her father's if he had lived. She is cared or by two care-takers and the estate is left to slowly decay. Her birth and her mother are somewhat mysterious, so we are left to assume that she is illegitimate and is only provided for by the good grace of her uncle. Her problems begin when her cousin Delamere, son of Lord Montreville develops a consuming passion for her. (Her innocence and his stalking behavior may drive 21st century readers nuts, so be advised.) Of course his father can't have his son allied to someone of her background, so the family battles begin. The first 40% of the book was somewhat boring to me, but it began to pick up with the addition of characters from other interrelated families. Smith includes examples good and bad marriages, overbearing women and men, underhanded dealings, and scandals. Overall, I enjoyed it, but think that it's not for everyone.

  • Kristen Lemaster
    2019-04-23 01:25

    A brilliant, revolutionary novel by Charlotte Smith, whose critical eye for the follies of sensible society had an obvious influence on the works of Jane Austen. The story explores such notions as the dangers of marriage and the importance of good familial relations while giving us a smart, sweet, stubborn female lead in Emmeline and making readers question the literary conventions of 17th and 18th century literature, especially regarding birth rights, excessive feeling, and character types such as the gothic tyrant and the libertine. The writing is easy enough to follow though very verbose, and after about 200 pages and two suitors too many, I think our entire class was wishing the novel had been condensed or cut in half.

  • Scarlettfish
    2019-04-06 19:24

    This is Smith's first novel, and it is very much in the romance tradition, without the political and social critique of Smith's later novels. However, that does not necessarily mean it is entirely without social critique. The women's reaction to one character - the mother of an illegitimate child - is very progressive and quite scandalous for the time. Look out for Smith telling her life story through one of the characters, and it's quite interesting to note that Smith doesn't treat the introduction of the hero in a conventional way. Worth a read, but Smith moved on to better things.

  • Kit Kincade
    2019-04-07 21:11

    It did make me wonder if somehow this book wasn't connected to Smith's thoughts of the Glorious Revolution. It didn't occur to me until I was pretty far into it that it had a character named James Crofts, like the Duke of Monmouth, and a major figure named Godolphin. This might need further investigation if it hasn't already been.

  • Wolverina
    2019-03-30 23:15

    Basically the story of a orphan girl being disinherited by dodgy family and sexually and physically harassed by one million men trying to force her to marry.Brilliant moments of critique, satire and awareness of how fucked over women are in that particular society. But it doesn't fall completely to self pity.Read on iBooks via Gutenberg.

  • Shannon Stults
    2019-04-14 03:24

    Really liked this one, though it is very different from the Austen novels I'm used to. The was a century earlier that Jane Austen's popular novels, but this style of romance apparently had a lot of effect on Austen's work. It got slow at certain parts, and I eventually had to start skimming the last chapter or so just to finish it on time for class, but overall I liked it.

  • Laura Leilani
    2019-03-24 19:13

    This book was so enjoyable. It's wonderful to read about a world where manners are so vital but it was fun to read about a woman that every man seemed to fall in love with, not because she was beautiful but because she had perfect manners. Loved it!

  • Christina
    2019-04-10 01:09

    Melodrama! Very long and complicated, but still somewhat enjoyable thanks to Loraine Fletcher's excellent editing and introduction. Here's my full review:

  • Sara
    2019-03-29 01:06

    An interesting British Romantic Gothic novel, very easy to read which is surprising as it was written at the end of the 1700's.

  • Laura
    2019-04-06 03:17

    Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

  • Jen
    2019-04-20 00:11

    I love gothic feminist writers. Charlotte Smith embodies the GOthic novel. Weaving tales of intrigue and sorrow.