The Absentee – Maria Edgeworth

I was pleasantly surprised by this novel – it’s very readable (unlike some of Fanny Burney’s work).

Here’s what’s on the back …

Maria Edgeworth’s sparkling satire about the Anglo-Irish family of an absentee landlord is also a landmark novel of morality and social realism.

The Absenteecentres around Lord and Lady Clonbrony, a couple more concerned with London society than their duties and responsibilities to those who live and work on their Irish estates. Recognising this negligence, their son Lord Colambre goes incognito to Ireland to observe the situation and trace the origins of his beloved cousin Grace. To put matters straight he finds a solution that will bring prosperity and contentment to every level of society, including his own family.

Although the time period and the phraseology is very similar to Austen, this novel lacks the sparkling wit and is very didactic – I occasionally felt I was being beaten over the head with the message.

But it is worth reading for the social history. Also I think it’s a good thing to read things Austen read and to realise how extraordinarliy talented she was (i.e in comparison with the predecessors).

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