Another review from a book read a while ago; I did have a rough draft from a time closer to the time I read book though, hence the length of this review.
This is going to be rather rambling–reflecting the style of the book!
What melodrama! In hindsight I thought this story even more shallow than I felt when reading it. Imagine melodramatic Elsie Dinsmore with that shallow understanding of virtues; “feeling” them or having proper motivations but lack of proper follow through (high class morality without giving up luxury so to speak). The novel was moralistic and not Christian. The author wrote under the assumption (presumption) that everyone is born good or bad and cannot change (and all good people or the best people are blue-bloods, and some blue-bloods can only be mischievous not bad even when according to the Bible those people are quite wicked). I am sorry, but no one is fundamentally good, some just have more common grace, and anyone can change.
Camilla acted very foolishly and for trifling reasons. She was never truly in a hard place (except where, through her folly, she deliberately placed herself)–only slightly uncomfortable. I did not like that she was such a favorite–that was as annoying as the constant harping on Isabella’s perfect beauty.
Edgar was far too suspicious (as the end of the novel points out), but I could not feel that this was entirely wrong as Camilla was absolutely ridiculous. I know Edgar was a prig, but I liked him minus the suspicions. . . and pardon his predilection for Camilla.
I wish Sir Sedley Claredel could have been rescued. I rather liked him, but of course no one is redeemable (how like our modern times, but for very different reasons).
Why did Lionel get away with his sin and deception? People are fundamentally good and bad remember! Do note the sarcasm. His crime was adultery (I do not believe that word existed in the novel) which is not excusable by flightiness (even Camilla’s debts were not excusable, but they could have been softened by pleading flightiness; Lionel’s more serious sins could not). ADULTERY! Edgar and Camilla’s greatest sins were the encouragement (yes) and concealment of this offense. Edgar was too easy (inconsistent) in giving Lionel money. Lionel’s public shame was just what he deserved especially as he was unrepentant; he should have been exposed. Just because he was a Tyrold did not make it less despicable. Why was Camilla in disgrace with her parents when Lionel had greater debts and extortion about which her parents knew? Lionel was hardly reproved for his tricks as they called them. I gather that he was about 20 which is far too old for such ridiculous behavior. If Mr. Tyrold was such a virtuous a man, why did he tolerate even a hint of frivolity?! He had the Bible; I know there are many verses on laziness and at least one that says “he who does not work, shall not eat.”
I did not like Mrs. Tyrold at all. She was too harsh and yet lax. Mothers stayed at home. She had three daughters–why could she not care for them better? That was all she had to do since they were wealthy enough for her not to have too much, if any housework!, The Tyrold situtation was similar to the March and Bennet families’s situation, they were not truly poor but rather poor for their social class. She should have guided their acquaintances rather than left them to Sir Hugh which was essentially (as she well knew) leaving them to themselves (lest you think that 17 is too old to be guided–look again at Camilla and girls today!). When they were older, she went to beg her brother to essentially reward her lazy, horrid son instead of staying at home where she belonged.
Poor Lavinia, the only proper one and resigned to be the second choice (how Elsie Dinsmore-ish) of Henry Weston (the only sensibly named character).
Eugenia’s misfortunes were quite extreme. I did rather like Melmond minus the ridiculous Isabella phase.
This was most definitely my least favorite Burney novel. The novel was excessively silly and dangerous in its seeming promotion of good behavior but actual rejection of Christian behavior. Most of the characters were idle and frivolous, and the virtues were more the snobby social standards of the upper classes rather than actual sincere Biblical virtues. I know this is often the case in such period drama novels (even though we like to ignore this fact), but this novel was in my view especially dangerous and silly since there was folly and deception covering actual wrongdoing (Camilla covers for Lionel and conceals her debts) presented as if it was good.