the female quixote

Title :: The Female Quixote
Author :: Charlotte Lennox
Completed :: Apr 07 2008
Challenges :: 888 : 1001 Books
Rating :: 5/5

From her earliest Youth she had discovered a Fondness for Reading, which extremely delighted the Marquis; he permitted her therefore the Use of the Library, in which, unfortunately for her, were great Store of Romances, and, what was still more unfortunate, not in the original French, but very bad Translations.

Dear me I absolutely loved this book! So very in the style of Don Quixote, Lennox endows the protagonist, Arabella, with such imagination and such a desire to live in a world and time when men spouted poetry and fell on their swords for the women they loved... only it's not imagination and not a desire... it's real...

Arabella has grown up in the countryside away from the bustle of the crowded streets of London. She spends her days enraptured in the books of romance once belonging to her mother. It is here she learns the great lengths a man must go to for the woman he loves. And don't you dare tell her differently because Arabella is learned and can list countless examples of the trials and tribulations of the great lovers of a long ago generation. She is appalled when a man thinks he can approach her and speak in her presence without first having written a glorious letter, or lie on his death bed awaiting for her to give permission to live.

The adventure really takes off when her cousin Glanville comes to visit. It is made clear by the Marquis that it's his wish for Glanville to marry Arabella and inherit his land. But poor unfortunate Glanville who did not study the great romances makes the ultimate blunder by greeting his cousin with a kiss on the cheek and proclaiming her beauty. How dare he! He is quickly banished from her sight and must jump through hoops to gain back her good graces. In the meantime Sir George Bellmour having seen Arabella's great beauty and learning of her inheritance upon her father's death is determined to win the lady. Bellmour has read the romances, but ignores the fact that they are fiction and uses them to create an outrageous life history of his own which at first intrigues Arabella. Only he makes the mistake of adding one too many love stories and Arabella is appalled by his neglect of his former loves. Bellmour quickly resolves this by involving a young lass to play act a scandal that will throw Glanville into shadow.

I have to give it to Arabella, her life appears far from boring and actually quite tiring. She can barely step out her door without fear of being insulted, repulsed, loved, longed for, ravished or other miscellaneous mishaps. Arabella is virtuous, her speech is flowery and her romantic knowledge knows no bounds. Oh woes me! I'll copy here a little dialogue between Arabella and another poor soul mistakenly identified as a potential lover.
As for Parthenissa, Madam, said he, neither have I heard of her; nor do I remember to have heard of any more than one Cleopatra: But she was never ravished, I am certain; for she was too willing.

How! Sir, said Arabella: Was Cleopatra ever willing to run away with her Ravisher?

Cleopatra was a Whore, was she not, Madam? said he.

Hold thy Peace, unworthy Man, said Arabella; and profane not the Memory of that fair and glorious Queen, by such injurious Language: That Queen, I say, whose Courage was equal to her Beauty; and her Virtue surpassed by neither. Good Heavens! What a black Defamer have I chosen for my Protector!
This discussion so reminded me of one I had at the Benefit make-up counter so long ago in Macy's. I used to work at the visitor center at Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix and spent many breaks wandering around the shops. I believe on this occasion I was needing to buy a new Dr. Feel Good (love the stuff) and the cashier and I got to talking. Anyway I must have said something about being an Egyptologist and he totally threw his arms in the air and went "Oh!" and then leaned across the counter with his chin in his hand, batted his eyes and said, "So, was Cleopatra as big of a whore as they say she was?" I about died laughing. Usually people ask me if aliens built the pyramids (which is SO stupid by the way). Ha! Ha!

Anyway please read this book because it is a riot, and definitely read it if you loved Don Quixote!

Other Thoughts ::
: you're next - reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link!

. listening . real love . david gray . a new day at midnight .


posted by Ashleigh @ 16:50,


At 16 April 2008 at 19:27, Blogger Eloise said...

This sounds wonderful, thank you for the review. I love the Cleopatra quotation.

At 17 April 2008 at 00:54, Blogger Danielle said...

This sounds great. I'm going to have to find a copy now. There are none to be mooched, but I think my library has it. It seems fitting since I read DQ last year--Arabella should have her say this year.

At 17 April 2008 at 01:15, Blogger Ashleigh said...

I loved the Cleopatra quote too! Yes definitely scoop up a copy of this book!


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    ashleigh (ash'lė) n.
    1: egyptologist; currently living in the uk attempting to obtain a phd in egyptology, hoping in the end there will be a job.
    2: literary; reading to escape reality, to improve conversation, for inspiration.
    3: crafter; crocheting and needlework, creating heirlooms, keeping the world warm.
    4: dreamer; head in the clouds, full of fantasies, wishing to be someone else, somewhere else.
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