(From a letter written by the 17-year-old title character, visiting London for the first time and going shopping for clothes--)
"At the milliners, the ladies we met were so much dressed, that I should
rather have imagined they were making visits than purchases. But
what most diverted me was, that we were more frequently served
by men than by women; and such men! so finical, so affected! they
seemed to understand every part of a woman's dress better than we
do ourselves; and they recommended caps and ribbands with an air of
so much importance, that I wished to ask them how long they had left
off wearing them."
Having a great time with this book. And actually it's a nice complement to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, being set in the same country and within 30 or so years of the same time period. Evelina was published in 1778 and seems to be set right around then; Strange and Norrell was just written last year, but is set in the Napoleonic War era, early 19th century. In fact, I'm beginning to think that the late 1700s and early 1800s may be my favorite era for the British novel. Before that it was archaic; after that, for a century or so, it was stuffy; and then somewhere in the 20th century it got all weird and incomprehensible. (With some brilliant exceptions, of course.) But those Georgian and Regency years - ah, so lively.
So, there's my ill-thought-through literary statement for your Friday afternoon. Happy weekend!