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Helen Paperback – 8 Jul 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Sort of Books (8 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956003893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956003898
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 577,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A satisfying drama, full of twists and turns for us to really get our teeth into (Bookbag)

[Helen] is a revelation to me and I am grateful for having been put in the way of its wit, its daring and its seriousness (not to be confused with solemnity) of intention. (Brian MacFarlane Inside Story)

An intriguing and invigorating breath of Regency splendour and scandal (Rosemary Goring The Herald)

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Introduced by John Mullan

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an intriguing novel. Evidently it has been out of print for years, and it's easy to see why. With the overwrought style, full of cries of 'nay' and 'stay!' (along with plenty of rather unnecessary French) it's easy to see why the author went out of fashion. At the same time, her style is quite fascinating even if it does sound a bit odd!

The book is full of quotable phrases and sparkling apercus, and it delves deeply and compellingly into the nature and implications of different degrees of truth and falsehood. And although Edgeworth wrote about the same society in the same era as Jane Austen, the style of dialogue is entirely different, and words are often used in ways that will be intriguingly unfamiliar, probably even to readers well-versed in 19th century novels.

The plot is very reminiscent of Jane Austen, and it's a very enjoyable tale. It does seem over-long though; an interminable and largely pointless scene in a dentist is just infuriating when one is dying to know what happens next!

The biggest flaw is down to the publisher. The book is packed full of irritating typos and words that have been incorrectly copied - a word that can only be 'titles' is rendered as 'tides' for instance. 'Startled' is 'started'. 'Marry' becomes 'many', 'smooth' 'sooth', 'him' 'hint', 'mail' 'hail', 'stern' 'stem' and 'furnished' 'finished', to name a handful! On top of that, there are frequent errors of punctuation, occasional confusion of footnotes, and now and then a sentence that appears to have words missing so that it makes no sense at all.

These are the kinds of errors that arise when publishers rely on spell-checks and don't bother to proof-read properly.
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Format: Paperback
Slow to get going but by Volume 2 starts to become really gripping.
Helen Stanley, left impoverished on her uncle's death, is offered a home with her childhood friend Lady Cecilia and her husband, the stern but righteous General Clarendon. Another important character is the wise Lady Davenant (Cecilia's mother) whose thoughts on morals and life are much valued by Helen - only Lady Davenant could pronounce a character 'constitutionally wilful and metaphysically vacillating'!

Problems start to arise through Cecilia's untruthful nature, where ultimately she leaves her friend to take the blame for her own doings... Helen is utterly righteous all the time, so I started to get fed up with her self sacrificing spirit. This is where for me, Maria Edgeworth cannot reach the levels of her 'rival' Jane Austen.
Nonetheless turns out to be quite an exciting read!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Firstly, I must point out that the 5 stars are for the story, not this edition. As another reviewer has pointed out, there are typos aplenty. Also, it would have been nice to have notes on the text throughout - while the French is translated, there are references to things which were unfamiliar to me as a modern reader. It would have been nice to have various things explained. On the other hand, kudos to them for bringing this wonderful novel back into print.

I cannot believe that this is the first 5* review - I thought this was a fascinating and beautifully written novel. Parts were literally laugh-out-loud hilarious (apologies for the cliché). The characters were well-drawn, all with believable faults but likeable nonetheless. The story itself is so original - far more sophisticated than the plots of various other novels of the era. It's quite psychological - I found myself wondering what on earth I would do if I were in the place of Helen, the protagonist. It's also fun to look for similarities to Jane Austen, whom Maria Edgeworth influenced heavily. I was interested to read the rather stern but kind-hearted Clarendon say that once his mind was made up, he rarely changed it; rather similar to Mr Darcy's claim that his good opinion once lost is lost forever, I thought!

I can't recommend this book highly enough - if you love Jane Austen, I'm almost certain you'll love this.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Rather boring, much prefer Jane Austen, this bears no comparison, Helen does not feature much, only as an onlooker and receiver of extremely long winded diatribes from her friends mother.
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Format: Paperback
The eponymous Helen is a young lady without a fortune, who at the outset of the novel goes to live with her recently married friend Cecilia Clarendon. The first half of the novel, and this does feel slightly too long, establishes the characters of the protogonists through discussions in the setting of country houses, and even, at one point, a hawking party- a scene which befitted the 'silver fork' fiction the introduction describes. In Volume Two, the action becomes more psychological and the drawing room conversation much more vicious as Helen is embroiled in her friend's lies, which threaten her status in society and her impending marriage.

Ignore the comparisons with Jane Austen, as you may be disappointed. This novel does not have the economy and the bristling wit of Austen, or the sustained insight and more complex characterisation of 'Wives and Daughters', which apparently the novel influenced. There is also rather too much fainting towards the end, and I personally found Helen's patience increasingly unconvincing. The strength of it lies in the picture of the corrosive London set, the presentation of Helen's dilemma mid-way through the novel, and what is to my knowledge the first chapter set in a dentist's!
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