Young, wealthy Arabella is obsessed with French romances: brought up by a reclusive widowed father in an isolated castle, she has educated herself through their pages, and been led to believe that their dramas and absurdities are reality. She blindly adheres to their example and interprets her everyday life through their lens, thinking that life consists of uncontrollable passions and murderous violence, and that any man would die for her. Thus she embarks on a series of hilarious misadventures, insistent on the reality of her imaginary world, like Don Quixote before her.
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A delightful discovery
A, I had never heard of this novel. B, I probably would not have read it if I had, for I suspect the print would have been tiny. How wonderful, then, to have it read, and read so well. Juliet Stevenson is perhaps the best female audiobook reader of them all: here, with the range of voices and her clear, gentle cadence, she excels. True, as with so many early novels there is virtually no plot and little character development, so that it can seem a little long at times; but Arabella the heroine is charming! Yes, we do laugh at her high romance, but her innate intelligence makes her a genuinely sympathetic person, and we are always on her side. This is just the sort of book that justifies an Audible subscription: so glad I discovered it.
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