Category Archives: Novel of Manners

Mansfield Park: A mature but, for us, challenging novel by Jane Austen

Of all Jane Austen’s heroines, Fanny Price of Mansfield Park is surely the least appealing, the most ‘foreign’ to our age. Unlike Emma’s assertiveness and Lizzy’s humour, Fanny’s combination of self-effacement and moral conviction are at odds with modern core … Continue reading

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Our attitudes and experiences of near neighbours haven’t changed all that much in the last 160 years, if Emily Eden’s The Semi-Detached House is any guide

The Semi-Detached House by Emily Eden is a social satire written in the mid-19th century. When young Lady Chester moves into a semi-detached house in the suburbs she anticipates being forced into awkward intimacy with vulgar neighbours, whose daughters will … Continue reading

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A book that argues the indispensable value of spinsters: Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym is about capable spinsters – truly excellent women capable of dealing with any sort of drama – observant, helpful, available and overlooked. Mildred, the protagonist, is just one of these women, pondering her life and … Continue reading

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A Victorian novel about decision paralysis: Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope

Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope has a name that is a bit off-putting. It suggests an obnoxious main character who will be hard to sympathise with. I didn’t find this to be the case. The main character, Alice … Continue reading

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A Country Gentleman and His Family by Margaret Oliphant

A Country Gentleman and His Family by Margaret Oliphant is surprisingly well written. Mrs Oliphant was a Victorian authoress who wrote novels to support herself and several dependents so was prolific but variable in quality. This book had skillful characterisation … Continue reading

Posted in British, Classic, Family Drama, General adult audience, Novel of Manners, Pastoral novel, Romance, Social Novel, Victorian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Warden by Anthony Trollope

The Warden by Anthony Trollope is the first of the Barchester Novels and is Amusing, Character-Driven and Short. Characters have names like Septimus Harding and Sir Abraham Haphazard! Clergyman, Mr Harding is accused of being Paid Too Much for his … Continue reading

Posted in 18th Century, Classic, Comedy, General adult audience, Novel, Novel of Manners, Pastoral novel, Serial Novel, Victorian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Persuasion is probably my favourite Jane Austen novel. It lacks the bright humour of  Pride and Prejudice, but both book and heroine share a lovely, gentle pensiveness. It explores ideas of regret and duty, as well as the difference between being … Continue reading

Posted in British, Fiction, General adult audience, Novel, Novel of Manners, Pre-Victorian | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments