Top positive review
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I love Pamela, but I also love this!
on 5 May 2006
I admit that when I came into reading this story, fresh from reading Pamela, which was an enjoyable satisfying read, I was ready to be defensive in reading these stories. I very much liked Pamela's innocence, despite it's lengthiness, so with Fielding's work being a hostile satire of Pamela it wasn't going to gain my favour easily. However, I must say that I enjoyed Joseph Andrews immensely and it's credit to Fielding for writing such a funny, engaging novel.
The book consists of two stories: Shamela, which is a direct parody of Pamela as suggested by it's title (i.e. Pamela: The "real" story), and Joseph Andrews, which is a novel, set in the same world as that of Pamela. In fact Pamela even makes an appearence in this story also, but be aware that this isn't really a flattering one, although the satire is nowhere near as strong as in Shamela.
Shamela is a very short novel (under 50 pages) that follows the structure of Pamela and re-interprets events in order to make Pamela an ambitious schemer who seduces a besotted rich husband for power and money.
This is generally very cleverly done and it includes a lot of humour ("vartue" for "virtue" for example). Shamela is a real treat for Anti-Pamelists who suspect that she isn't all she seems. However, for me this story ruined my fantasy of the youthful innocent who defies the advances of the powerful Mr B. Frankly, although I see the funny side of Shamela, I don't want to believe it. Added to this, the letters are slightly boring and preachy to read before Shamela's first letter.
Joseph Andrews follows Pamela's cousin Joseph Andrews who is a male-servant for a relative of Mr B (or Booby as he is called in Fielding's work) Mrs Booby who grows infatuated with him. Ultimately, because of this Joseph, as he is a righteous character, is forced away and embarks on a journey, alongside Parson Abraham Adams and his true love Fanny.
This adventure goes through a series of turns and events before it reaches its surprising conclusion (I kick myself still as I didn't see it coming), and is very funny from start to finish. It's one of the few books I have found laugh-out-loud funny at least. The characters in the text are all flawed, but all reassuringly human. The narrator also is very engaging, much more so than in Pamela, and you can't help but get caught up in the adventure, the humour and the hypocrisy of the book. It's light, entertaining and has many twists and turns and stories along the way.
On the negative side Fielding's narrator does tend to waffle on every so few chapters and generally this is unintersting and makes difficult reading, but Joseph Andrews is still a great story. Ultimately I would recomend this book, as I found it very entertaining and funny, but please don't hold too many preconceptions about this book, because it denies its enjoyment.