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First published in 1778, this novel of manners tells the story of Evelina, a young woman raised in rural obscurity who is thrust into London's fashionable society at the age of eighteen. There, she experiences a sequence of humorous events at balls, theatres, and gardens that teach her how quickly she must learn to navigate social snobbery and veiled aggression. Evelina, the embodiment of the feminine ideal for her time, undergoes numerous trials and grows in confidence with her abilities and perspicacity. As an innocent young woman, she deals with embarrassing relations, being beautiful in an image-conscious world, and falling in love with the wonderfully eligible Lord Orville. Burney gives the heroine a surprisingly shrewd opinion of fashionable London. This work, then, is not only satirical concerning the consumerism of this select group, but also aware of the role of women in late-eighteenth century society, paving the way for writers such as Jane Austen in this comic, touching love story
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