If you don't already have a fondness for Regency literature, this book may seem too long and too moralistic. It is very much *not* in the modern style. However, it's not for nothing that Maria Edgeworth was one of the leading novelists of her day. The book is absolutely stunning in its condemnation of political patronage and the negative consequences of a life built on connections rather than merit. This theme, given the rampant cronyism in the current administration, is both topical and frightening. What I like most about the book, though, is that it is meticulous. The project that Edgeworth set herself was a vast one: to chronicle the negative effects of patronage on one family and the positive effects of hard-work and diligence on another. This means a lot of characters and a lot of situations, and so it is definitely not a quick read. However, by and large, she keeps the entire, unwieldy business in hand.