Clarissa – first impressions

As you probably know, I’m participating in a year long read-a-long of Samuel Richardson’s novel Clarissa. The special thing with this read-a-long is that since Clarissa consists of letters, we read each letter on the date it is said to be written. I like this idea because you’re going to feel a bit like the protagonists in the novel – for instance, I’ve read the first 6 letters and now, I have to wait and not read the next letter until February 20th. I cheated a bit and read the first few lines where Clarissa apologizes that it has taken her so long to write – and this delay becomes more real to me because I too have waited for the letter. I like that. It makes the novel more real. I think I’ll have a hard time letting go when I’ve finished the last letter on December 7th!

Especially because so far I really enjoy this novel. It’s still in it’s preliminary stages so we’re still being introduced to the characters and seeing the conflicts slowly evolving. We already know a lot about the characters – even the ones not writing letters. We know that Lovelace’s pursuit of first Clarissa’s older sister and then Clarissa, has created a problem in the family. Even though Clarissa doesn’t encourage Lovelace and doesn’t even like him, her sister and brother don’t quite believe her and especially her brother is acting like he has the right to be the deciding factor of her life and is scheming to either make her go and be a house keeper in his house or marry her off to some rich man. (When I was reading about Clarissa’s relationship with her big brother and the way he acted, I couldn’t help but think that Richardson completely nailed this big brother-little sister relationship! I immediately hated her brother … Probably in no small part because I am a little sister with a big brother and can remember how annoying it was when he acted like he had something to say over my life!). Clarissa’s sister is probably suffering more from hurt pride than anything else since she actually wanted to marry Lovelace but pushed him a bit too far and made him reconsider his relationship with her and choose her sister instead. And of course, both Clarissa’s siblings are jealous since their grandfather willed an estate to Clarissa, making her (on paper at least) independent.

Her parents are also rather typical, I think. The mother who knows how she wants everything to be but is too weak to stand up for herself and therefore suffers more than she would if she was able to stand her ground. The angry father who’s trying to rule the entire family. And then some uncles who haven’t married because they ‘care so much about Clarissa and her siblings’. I can’t help but wonder if that’s the entire reason…

Luckily Clarissa has a really good friend in miss Anna Howe and in the last letter, Clarissa was getting ready to go on a short stay at the Howe’s.

I actually can’t wait to February 20th to read on in this novel but I’ll do my best to do so anyway. I’ve marked it in my calendar so there’s really not much else to do – but wait.

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9 thoughts on “Clarissa – first impressions

  1. I like the way you are “experiencing” the novel by waiting! I look forward to being a little further into the story. I’ll have the Mr.Linky post up next Tuesday, Jan 31st so you can add this post 🙂

  2. It does feel like the stage is still being set, but we’ve learned a lot about the main characters… mainly through Clarissa. I’m looking forward to hearing from them directly in their own letters. Especially curious about Lovelace – can he really be as bad as he’s made out to be? Glad you’re enjoying it so far.

  3. It’s surprising how much we have learnt about the characters in only a few letters and how easy it was to become immediately involved with them. I’m enjoying reading to the date too but this long wait until Feb 20th will test my patience.

    • Yeah, only 6 letters so far and already we know a lot about these characters and the whole situation. I’m finding the wait hard too. And we only get to read about 15 pages in February … Can’t wait for March!

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