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Set in a Roman Catholic Europe of violent passions and extreme oppression, the novel follows the fate of its heroine Adeline, who is mysteriously placed under the protection of a family fleeing Paris for debt. They take refuge in a ruined abbey in south-eastern France, where sinister relics of the past - a skeleton, a manuscript, and a rusty dagger - are discovered in conc Set in a Roman Catholic Europe of violent passions and extreme oppression, the novel follows the fate of its heroine Adeline, who is mysteriously placed under the protection of a family fleeing Paris for debt. They take refuge in a ruined abbey in south-eastern France, where sinister relics of the past - a skeleton, a manuscript, and a rusty dagger - are discovered in concealed rooms. Adeline finds herself at the mercy of the abbey's proprietor, a libidinous Marquis whose attentions finally force her to contemplate escape to distant regions. Rich in allusions to aesthetic theory and to travel literature, The Romance of the Forest is also concerned with current philosophical debate and examines systems of thought central to the intellectual life of late eighteenth-century Europe.


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Set in a Roman Catholic Europe of violent passions and extreme oppression, the novel follows the fate of its heroine Adeline, who is mysteriously placed under the protection of a family fleeing Paris for debt. They take refuge in a ruined abbey in south-eastern France, where sinister relics of the past - a skeleton, a manuscript, and a rusty dagger - are discovered in conc Set in a Roman Catholic Europe of violent passions and extreme oppression, the novel follows the fate of its heroine Adeline, who is mysteriously placed under the protection of a family fleeing Paris for debt. They take refuge in a ruined abbey in south-eastern France, where sinister relics of the past - a skeleton, a manuscript, and a rusty dagger - are discovered in concealed rooms. Adeline finds herself at the mercy of the abbey's proprietor, a libidinous Marquis whose attentions finally force her to contemplate escape to distant regions. Rich in allusions to aesthetic theory and to travel literature, The Romance of the Forest is also concerned with current philosophical debate and examines systems of thought central to the intellectual life of late eighteenth-century Europe.

30 review for The Romance of the Forest

  1. 4 out of 5

    Justin Tate

    In 1791, while George Washington served his second year as president and politicians were preoccupied with drafting something called the Bill of Rights, readers across the pond devoured Ann Radcliffe's hotly anticipated new novel The Romance of the Forest. If foreign affairs consumed their mind, these thoughts were easily vanquished to a fictional world of chilling melodrama and gothic romance. Radcliffe wasn’t yet a household name—she would become one with her next novel, however—but the majori In 1791, while George Washington served his second year as president and politicians were preoccupied with drafting something called the Bill of Rights, readers across the pond devoured Ann Radcliffe's hotly anticipated new novel The Romance of the Forest. If foreign affairs consumed their mind, these thoughts were easily vanquished to a fictional world of chilling melodrama and gothic romance. Radcliffe wasn’t yet a household name—she would become one with her next novel, however—but the majority of literate society was familiar with A Sicilian Romance (1790) which was published only months earlier. This new novel, printed over three volumes, was longer, spookier, more atmospheric and more heart-pounding than her last. No surprise that it became an instant bestseller. I suspect my reaction, 200+ years later, is similar to Radcliffe's original audience: YES!!!! This story has everything I want and more. Can’t wait to read her next book! The first few chapters alone make this a classic. We begin mid-flight, as a man with a habit for Parisian vice flees his creditors under the cloak of night. When it becomes too dark to continue by carriage, he stops at a nearby cottage for assistance. Instead of receiving room and board, however, he’s held prisoner. His jailers then instruct him to become caregiver to a beautiful young girl, or be killed. Man, his family, and the mysterious maiden depart into the moonlight, traveling far until they at last find refuge in a ruinous, haunted abbey hidden deep in the forest. But with crumbling bricks, labyrinthine passageways and skeletal remains in the recesses, it’s unclear if this abandoned abbey is a source of safety or certain death. Romantic prisons and eerie dwellings are staples of Radcliffe’s aesthetics and she really finds her footing with this novel. The few issues I had with A Sicilian Romance are directly addressed. The pacing is more luxurious—almost pastoral, but never boring—and twists are appropriately spaced. Her characters are more complex when compared to the caricatures of good and evil in her previous effort and her web of intricate plot is more carefully orchestrated. What doesn’t change is her brilliance as a storyteller. She effortlessly builds suspense and intrigue, often becoming a downright tease when resolving unexplained mystery. Just as the answer is within reach, something interrupts and postpones resolution. If Radcliffe was as seductive in bed as she was with her writing, her husband was no doubt a happy fellow. Once again she masterfully uses “uncommon sounds” to fuel her character’s imaginative nightmares. What they envision is often worse than what is actually happening, but sometimes it really is that scary. This uncertainty keeps everything on edge, for character and reader, so that each sentence has significance, suspense, and/or surprise. Now that I’ve read two of her superb novels, neither of which are considered her best work, it remains puzzling to me that Radcliffe is not as familiar to classrooms as Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters. I’m not singing solo in this opinion, but I’m not exactly joining a chorus either. "Given the virtuosity of their plotting and the richness of their allusion,” writes Claudia L. Johnson, an academic of 18th century gothic literature, “it is surprising just how little Radcliffe's works have received in the way of sustained analysis.” This sentiment is common among us who admire gothic literature, but scarce commentary by literary academia at large. Ask any English major how they feel about Ann Radcliffe and most will likely say they’ve never heard of her. Those who have probably recognized the name only from Jane Austen, E.A. Poe, or H.P. Lovecraft, who were all big fans and reference her works frequently. As for why she’s less known, I have some thoughts. Stylistically she does reveal her plots in a more summarized manner than most writers, leading to some beautiful descriptions and others which are more generic. For example, a variation of “her emotion cannot easily be imagined” and “her feelings on this occasion were too complex to be analysed” are occasionally tossed in. Out of context these sentences seem particularly egregious, but in actuality she gets by with it because her characters are so cleanly drawn that we don’t need lengthy description to explain how they feel. We can imagine it on our own just fine. Other potential flaws, by modern standards, include her characters. It is certainly true that none of her characters are iconic figures of personality. They all have clear motivations and realistic psyche, but the women routinely faint at the drop of a pin and the men are limited to certain roles, such as father, lover or villain. There’s a certain cheesiness with which scares are delivered and how she concludes the novel by wrapping up everything neatly with a bow. Personally I find Radcliffe’s abbreviated storytelling refreshing. She writes with mathematical precision, delivering the exact amount of description needed for the reader to obtain a sense of character, atmosphere, pacing or mood, and does not bother with a word more. Rather than stand out as an author of great innovation or unprecedented technique, her legacy seems largely based on delivering pop novels which provided audiences with exactly what they wanted. There’s always been a certain stigma placed upon Radcliffe readers. In Northanger Abbey (1803), Jane Austen pokes fun at the young women who read Radcliffe gothics and start imagining intrigue and conspiracy surrounding their mundane lives. The stigma remains to this day, I believe, among those of us who feel Radcliffe deserves a table among other literary giants. I still have two major works to read, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Italian (1797), which are generally considered her greatest achievements. We’ll see if my strong opinion of Radcliffe is further cemented, or if I become tired of her tried-and-true formula. More of my reviews can be found on SpookyBooky.com Let’s discuss! Please like or leave a comment :)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Warwick

    Ann Radcliffe takes the bump-in-the-night, crepuscular Catholicism of Horace Walpole, and adds a load of ‘sequestered virgin’ stuff straight out of Richardson. The result is rather a load of old tosh, to be honest, although there are some enjoyable thrills. The plot never makes much sense at the best of times, and by the end it has completely dissolved into dei ex machina, hidden relationships, interminable poetry, and so much swooning from the heroine Adeline that she spends most of the dénouem Ann Radcliffe takes the bump-in-the-night, crepuscular Catholicism of Horace Walpole, and adds a load of ‘sequestered virgin’ stuff straight out of Richardson. The result is rather a load of old tosh, to be honest, although there are some enjoyable thrills. The plot never makes much sense at the best of times, and by the end it has completely dissolved into dei ex machina, hidden relationships, interminable poetry, and so much swooning from the heroine Adeline that she spends most of the dénouement unconscious. Never mind getting married, she should be getting her blood pressure checked. Perhaps the most successful part is the first section, where our syncopic heroine and her friends take refuge in an old ruined abbey deep in the forests of the French countryside, where they lounge around being ‘devoted to melancholy and secret grief’. These chapters are full of secret passageways, skeletons, ancient manuscripts and the like, while Adeline fends off the advances of a villain so free from nuance that he might as well be twirling a moustache. After that, rather abruptly, the novel become a weird kind of travelogue, taking in Languedoc, Provence and the Alps as Radcliffe quotes liberally from contemporary travel literature. As always, the Gothic is linked to a bygone (for England), and hence ‘foreign’, Catholicism. Radcliffe's heroes in this case are seventeenth-century Frenchmen, although for the purposes of expounding her own moral precepts, they generally partake of the values of eighteenth-century Anglicanism: so, when one character discovers the crumbled tomb of a monk in the woods, he launches into an anachronistic diatribe: ‘Peace be to his soul! but did he think a life of mere negative virtue deserved an eternal reward? Mistaken man! reason, had you trusted to its dictates, would have informed you, that its active virtues, the adherence to the golden rule, “Do as you would be done unto,” could alone deserve the favour of a Deity, whose glory is benevolence.’ Similarly, in the heart of Catholic Savoy, our heroes somehow end up staying with a pastor who reels off pages of sensible Calvinist doctrine (ripped mostly out of Rousseau). Though the plot twists and character developments are decidedly hit and miss, there is some interest in seeing how the form of the novel was still coming into focus here, and occasionally Radcliffe's set-pieces work quite effectively. In her brief intervals of consciousness, Adeline can be quite a plucky heroine, and certain of the supporting characters are genuinely compelling – particularly La Motte, who is an unusual combination of hero and villain. What is most intriguing, perhaps, is to see how Radcliffe's adumbrated Gothic themes – murder, rape and crypto-incest – would be developed with thunderous explicitness by people like Matthew Lewis and the Marquis de Sade. Sade was a great admirer of hers, and it's curious to imagine him leafing through her books in his cell at the Bicêtre. But in this, as in so many things, the marquis and I do not quite see eye-to-eye.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    This was my third Radcliffe title and my least favorite. The GR blurb says it is thought to represent her best work, but either I was seeing her 'formula' too clearly or was simply not impressed with the story itself, because I very much preferred The Italian. That was a hoot. This was more of a whimper. Of course, the tiny print in my edition may have made the book harder for me to deal with. My old eyes could only handle it in short sessions, and I probably was annoyed with that detail as much This was my third Radcliffe title and my least favorite. The GR blurb says it is thought to represent her best work, but either I was seeing her 'formula' too clearly or was simply not impressed with the story itself, because I very much preferred The Italian. That was a hoot. This was more of a whimper. Of course, the tiny print in my edition may have made the book harder for me to deal with. My old eyes could only handle it in short sessions, and I probably was annoyed with that detail as much as I was with the many many times that our heroine Adeline faints away. She faints a lot. And cries buckets of tears every other page, and is generally melancholy throughout the whole book, but so sweet and noble in her bearing that everyone just loves her to pieces, including the villain. This last fact is of course one of the reasons for all of her tears and fainting. We start off meeting the La Motte family, on the run from Paris for situations only hinted at, but that would cost Mr. his life if he stays. He is the most selfish person at this point and throughout most of the book, always fretting more about himself and his future than about his family, which he has dragged down with him. On their escape through a dark forest at night, they meet with some brigands who force La Motte to take the orphan Adeline with them, and from there to the end of the story we fret about what will happen to the poor fainting girl. I guessed at one point who the super villain probably was, but I didn't guess the amazing coincidences in the last section. I must have been somewhat light-headed by that point because of course events would have happened exactly this way, no matter how incredible it might have seemed. The last few chapters are roll-your-eyes hold-your-breath worrying about Adeline and her friends. Will they all escape the clutches of the evil Marquis? Will everyone live through the fainting spells that have begun to affect nearly every character at this point? And what about that romance.....does Adeline ever get to dry her eyes and be happy?! One note about this particular edition. The introduction has a major plot spoiler in the first few paragraphs. Unless you are a student of the history and traditions of the Gothic genre, I would suggest skipping both the introduction and footnotes. Stick to the story itself. For me it may not have been the most interesting Radcliffe around, but to turn it into a text book about a writing style is not the way to make it better.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bri Fidelity

    Pros: Reads like the Good Bits of Udolpho - which is to say, like a sort of very morbid Enid Blyton mystery - minus the Bad Bits. Reasonably compelling mysteries; genuinely tense escape attempts; a grown-up (if delicately/hilariously described) sense of sexual threat; lots of atmosphere. Unlike Udolpho, the reveals aren't thunderingly anticlimactic, and there's some actual ambiguity in the supernatural elements - and there are mercifully few landscapegasms and twee sonnets (though Chapters 18 an Pros: Reads like the Good Bits of Udolpho - which is to say, like a sort of very morbid Enid Blyton mystery - minus the Bad Bits. Reasonably compelling mysteries; genuinely tense escape attempts; a grown-up (if delicately/hilariously described) sense of sexual threat; lots of atmosphere. Unlike Udolpho, the reveals aren't thunderingly anticlimactic, and there's some actual ambiguity in the supernatural elements - and there are mercifully few landscapegasms and twee sonnets (though Chapters 18 and 19 have all the missing ones in concentrated form). Cons: Excessive swooning; Simpleton Servants; a Random Third Act Family; physiognomy. The good people being unimpeachably good and the bad people being excessively bad. Everyone turning out to be everyone else's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate. Serial, abuse, of, commas. So basically: Probably the only Radcliffe novel I could actually recommend - or, you know, laughingly 'recommend' - without feeling too guilty. (Like all her books, it's best read in tandem with friends with whom you can lightly eviscerate it as you go. Maybe good fun for a book club?) The Romance of the Forest has the brevity and the daft sensational quality of Radcliffe's earlier, sillier novels, but is written in the calmer, more assured (dare I say 'literary'?) voice of her later work. It definitely seems to be the product of some very tiny artistic breakthrough. In fact, I have a strong suspicion that the positive critical reception for this went entirely to her head and resulted in the Ann Radcliffe we all know and love - 'if they like my sublime landscape descriptions in Chapters 18 and 19, they'll love three whole volumes of trees!' The nefarious Marquis de Montalt's love-nest is probably worth the price of the book all by itself: The storm was violent and long, but as soon as it abated they set off on full gallop, and having continued to travel for about two hours, they came to the borders of the forest, and, soon after, to a high lonely wall, which Adeline could just distinguish by the moon-light, which now streamed through the parting clouds. Here they stopped; the man dismounted, and having opened a small door in the wall, he unbound Adeline, who shrieked, though involuntarily and in vain, as he took her from the horse. The door opened upon a narrow passage, dimly lighted by a lamp, which hung at the farther end. He led her on; they came to another door; it opened and disclosed a magnificent saloon, splendidly illuminated, and fitted up in the most airy and elegant taste. The walls were painted in fresco, representing scenes from Ovid, and hung above with silk drawn up in festoons and richly fringed. The sofas were of a silk to suit the hangings. From the centre of the ceiling, which exhibited a scene from the Armida of Tasso, descended a silver lamp of Etruscan form: it diffused a blaze of light, that, reflected from large pier glasses, completely illuminated the saloon. Busts of Horace, Ovid, Anacreon, Tibullus, and Petronius Arbiter, adorned the recesses, and stands of flowers, placed in Etruscan vases, breathed the most delicious perfume. In the middle of the apartment stood a small table, spread with a collation of fruits, ices, and liquors. No person appeared. The whole seemed the works of enchantment, and rather resembled the palace of a fairy than any thing of human conformation. Adeline was astonished, and inquired where she was, but the man refused to answer her questions, and, having desired her to take some refreshment, left her. She walked to the windows, from which a gleam of moon-light discovered to her an extensive garden, where groves and lawns, and water glittering in the moon-beam, composed a scenery of varied and romantic beauty. 'What can this mean!' said she: 'Is this a charm to lure me to destruction?' Wow.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    “He never read the Romance of the Forest, nor the Children of the Abbey. He had never heard of such books before I mentioned them, but he is determined to get them now as soon as ever he can.” Chapter 4, Emma, by Jane Austen (Contains spoiler alerts) I decided to read Romance of the Forest to see what kind of books Harriet Smith recommended to poor Mr. Martin. While I have a long way to go on Children of the Abbey (640 pages!) I can safely say that they are very silly books. I now understand what “He never read the Romance of the Forest, nor the Children of the Abbey. He had never heard of such books before I mentioned them, but he is determined to get them now as soon as ever he can.” Chapter 4, Emma, by Jane Austen (Contains spoiler alerts) I decided to read Romance of the Forest to see what kind of books Harriet Smith recommended to poor Mr. Martin. While I have a long way to go on Children of the Abbey (640 pages!) I can safely say that they are very silly books. I now understand what a joke it is for Harriet to want Mr. Martin to read such books. They are universally dubbed gothic books, but in my mind they would be more accurately described as sentimental novels with gothic elements. Adeline, a young woman is spirited away from a convent and is holed up in an abbey where she thinks she’s protected by a nobleman and his wife, but is really being set up to become the mistress of a marquis. She later finds out the marquis is a murderer (boo!) and her dad (ewww!). But he totally didn’t know she was her daughter. And it turns out he’s her uncle. (Not quite as eww-y, but still…eww.) You know how Marianne in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility has romantic notions and is always seeking intense emotions and feelings? Well, that’s the “Sensibility” part. Marianne is the embodiment of characters like Adeline. Adeline actively embraces melancholy, as do many of her friends and lovers. It strikes the modern reader as very odd. I think melancholy had a slightly different definition back then than it does now, that it didn’t necessarily equate to clinical depression. Still, the characters in this novel are pretty self-indulgent in the readiness to feel sad. There’s lots of talk of characters trying to exert themselves against their overwhelming ennui, but that serves mostly to illustrate just how overwhelming and intense the emotions they are feeling. This is the sort of nonsense that Austen warns against in her depiction of Marianne. Her heroines are sensible ladies like Elinor, Marianne’s sister, the “Sense” of Sense and Sensibility. But there can be no doubt that Austen truly loved these books. Once can see scenes and situations in these novels that Austen picks up on and writes variations of in her novels. Some of Austen’s juvenilia mocks the gothic novel style through absurd mimicry. But her adult work strikes me as a direct response to the literary style of Radcliff and others. The author of Romance of the Forest, Anne Radcliffe, takes shortcuts that no writing workshop would tolerate. Main characters are often not described in any sort of detail. Action is described in a haphazard way. She doesn’t quite write “and then they talk a bunch and then went to bed” but she comes close in many circumstances. Radcliffe and other novelists were working in a relatively brand new medium. It took pioneers like Austen to show how to properly pace action and how to describe people’s thoughts and actions in a sensible manner. Reading Romance of the Forest has made me more fully appreciate Jane Austen. I am now motivated to read more of the novels of her era so I can better understand not only her work, but how novels have taken on the traditions that we all take for granted.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This book was published in 1791. Author Ann Radcliffe was married, never traveled far from London, and she is regarded as one of those writers that began the "romantic gothic novel." She profoundly influenced Jane Austin. The writing is so rich and exquisite, you'll need to go slow and savor each sentence. Is is possible that the English language peaked in the 18th century, and then we began to lose words? Here's an excerpt: "She read a little, but finding it impossible any longer to abstract he This book was published in 1791. Author Ann Radcliffe was married, never traveled far from London, and she is regarded as one of those writers that began the "romantic gothic novel." She profoundly influenced Jane Austin. The writing is so rich and exquisite, you'll need to go slow and savor each sentence. Is is possible that the English language peaked in the 18th century, and then we began to lose words? Here's an excerpt: "She read a little, but finding it impossible any longer to abstract her attention from the scene around, she closed the book, and yielded to the sweet complacent melancholy which the hour inspired." And Mrs. Radclifee continues this writing for 380 pages of very small print. If you ARE a reader of Gothic Novels, you may want to read this. And if you are NOT, I'll say this. The writing is such that you can read a chapter (and there are XXVI) a week and yet be able to remember the story line. Many of these books were published as weekly series in the newspapers, even though it took a half year to read to the end.

  7. 4 out of 5

    El

    It's hard to review a book like this without giving away some key points (aka, spoilers), so I'm just gonna keep my mouth shut. The story got better as it went on - the beginning sort of bored me. There's a lot of preamble and mood-setting which is all fine and dandy, except I just wanted to get to the meat of the matter. Enough foreplay already. It's totally Gothic. It's filled with secrets, a lot of darkness, plenty of mystery, and a whole lot of freaking tears. Seriously, I was ready to build It's hard to review a book like this without giving away some key points (aka, spoilers), so I'm just gonna keep my mouth shut. The story got better as it went on - the beginning sort of bored me. There's a lot of preamble and mood-setting which is all fine and dandy, except I just wanted to get to the meat of the matter. Enough foreplay already. It's totally Gothic. It's filled with secrets, a lot of darkness, plenty of mystery, and a whole lot of freaking tears. Seriously, I was ready to build an ark due to all of Adeline's tears. She cried more than an adolescent girl reading Twilight. She cried more than that guy who sat in front of me that time I had to see Titanic in the movie theater. If Adeline made money off of every tear that fell, she would have been a rich literary character. Other than the excessive tears (which I understand is really an aspect of Gothic literature, so whatevs), there were some 18th-century things taht just sort of bugged me because I'm totally a 20th/21st-century gal - things like people in the story don't open their eyes. They "unclose" them. I believe this word was used in relation to a door as well. "Unclosing" eyes or doors or whatever else is a little creepy to me. It sounds... unnatural. And then there were other little British things that bugged me. Like the spellings of "surprize" and "apprize". Totally distracting. I have never felt so modern than I did while reading this. In all seriousness it was a fine story. A bit melodramatic for what I needed right now though. If I have to hold my own shit together, I don't have much sympathy for characters who faint, swoon, cry, whatever at every drop of a pin. I sorta wanted to bitch-slap Adeline a few times, but then realized that all of the characters were a bit wussy. I'll still read The Mysteries of Udolpho. Radcliffe was incredible at describing environment - whether it was nature or a ruined abbey. I'm interested in seeing how her other Gothic novels hold up in comparison.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    If The Romance of the Forest (hereafter ROF), were a film, it would be gorgeous - crumbly ruins, Swiss Alps, lakes, weeping willows, dark prisons, skeletons in basements. Guillermo Del Toro would be all over this shit. And if M. Night and Del Toro had a lovechild, he would direct this rambling exploration of victimhood. Don't expect a hero, expect, as another reviewer aptly put it, "a whole lot of freaking tears" and fainting, with frequent poetry breaks (I skipped all of the poems. Sue me). Ano If The Romance of the Forest (hereafter ROF), were a film, it would be gorgeous - crumbly ruins, Swiss Alps, lakes, weeping willows, dark prisons, skeletons in basements. Guillermo Del Toro would be all over this shit. And if M. Night and Del Toro had a lovechild, he would direct this rambling exploration of victimhood. Don't expect a hero, expect, as another reviewer aptly put it, "a whole lot of freaking tears" and fainting, with frequent poetry breaks (I skipped all of the poems. Sue me). Another reviewer didn't seem to like the epigraphs. I thought they were freakin' brilliant. Especially all the Macbeth. Somebody has to have done their thesis on Macbeth + ROF, or the world is not a fair place. If you're looking for something that won't take you a month to read, read The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (kudos to the reviewer who suggested that). Longer, but better, and the plot moves quicker. Don't get me wrong, the last 60 pages of ROF will have you shredding your nails and dropping your jaw like a mental patient. It's that twisted. It just takes a lot of nature scenes, sighing, "harassed feelings" and anxiety to get you there. Indeed, get ready to "get pissed off at Adeline" (thank you previous reviewer!). La Motte and son are more interesting, yes. But Louis (son), is the precursor to Stephenie Meyer's Jacob and Theodore (not a La Motte) is, you guessed it, sparkly Edward. It devolves into a love triangle at some points. Pierre (father), starts out the story, disappears, comes back at the end. He's conflicted, not a good guy and we're left doubting that he ever will be completely good. And that, my friends, makes for an interesting read. Read this visually so that you can enjoy the scenery. If you can't, you might just get bored. But there's a lot to unpack here, if you're willing to take on the real work it takes. I think the last 60 pages make it worth it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Bilgram

    Me: I love everything Gothic! *reads a Gothic for the first time* Me: maybe I don't love everything gothic Me: I love everything Gothic! *reads a Gothic for the first time* Me: maybe I don't love everything gothic

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    In literature, few things stir my ire quite like ridiculous coincidences being used as a means of advancing or tying together a plot. It's a testament to the charm of Ann Radcliffe's fiction that the last quarter of this book didn't derail my enjoyment all that much. I am completely won over by her painterly descriptions of landscape (not quite as accomplished here as in The Mysteries of Udolpho, a better work overall), as well as the portrayals of idyllic family life that bookend her works. The In literature, few things stir my ire quite like ridiculous coincidences being used as a means of advancing or tying together a plot. It's a testament to the charm of Ann Radcliffe's fiction that the last quarter of this book didn't derail my enjoyment all that much. I am completely won over by her painterly descriptions of landscape (not quite as accomplished here as in The Mysteries of Udolpho, a better work overall), as well as the portrayals of idyllic family life that bookend her works. There is an edifying quality, an essential goodness akin to that found in Dickens, about her novels which I think will always attract me and fill me with wonder and longing for a world (or a caliber of man) better than this one. I even like the poetry. This is an essential writer in the Gothic/Romantic tradition, and I intend to read her oeuvre.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Martine Liponoga

    Full disclosure: This was my first Ann Radcliffe novel. It was, I would say, my first proper encounter with anything of this infamous genre. I’d say the closest I’ve been before was with Dracula, and that has so much horror and fantasy that I just think it’s almost apples and oranges. I was fully braced for delicate, weeping females of noble, virtuous heart and positively dripping with good qualities. I was prepped for gloomy forests which contained many dark secrets. Love a good ruined castle; Full disclosure: This was my first Ann Radcliffe novel. It was, I would say, my first proper encounter with anything of this infamous genre. I’d say the closest I’ve been before was with Dracula, and that has so much horror and fantasy that I just think it’s almost apples and oranges. I was fully braced for delicate, weeping females of noble, virtuous heart and positively dripping with good qualities. I was prepped for gloomy forests which contained many dark secrets. Love a good ruined castle; was expecting one of those. It absolutely did not disappoint, on all those points. There’s murder and foul play, there’s the poor but beautiful orphan without a friend in the world, to whom will she turn, will no one help her? and there’s the evocative imagery that the title conjures. And by and large, I found it immensely enjoyable. I needn’t wax lyrical about the Gothic Novel, and honestly I don’t think I need to go in any great depth into the plot, but here are a few random observations: The Romance of the Forest was written in 1791. What I have found in reading works from the 1700s is that this is the period (for me, at least) when one of the biggest changes in prose style occurred, particularly regarding sentence length and use of commas. Check out the length of the second sentence of Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, written in 1719: “He got a good estate by merchandise, and leaving off his trade, lived afterwards at York, from whence he had married my mother, whose relations were named Robinson, a very good family in that country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but, by the usual corruption of words in England, we are now called—nay we call ourselves and write our name—Crusoe; and so my companions always called me.” Cripes. It’s a lot to untangle if you’re not used to it. And Robinson Crusoe isn’t even particularly hard going. If you fancy a challenge, try Lady Mary Montagu’s Turkish Embassy Letters, from about the same time. By the end of the 18th Century the syntax seems have made a big shift towards shorter and more comprehensible sentences, and it was that change from which I benefitted when reading The Romance of the Forest. There were still a few things that jarred, but by and large the prose differed little in sentence structure to present day. The main difference between eras of literature was sheer length! Was Radcliffe paid per word? The longer the better? Copious amounts of description abounds, paragraph after paragraph, in a manner to which a modern-day editor would immediately take the red pen. And it took some getting used to, but honestly, once I was in the right gear, I didn’t hate it. It was certainly a chance to wallow in prose. The other very obvious observation was in the depiction of the lovely heroine, Adeline. Adeline, in a nutshell, wept throughout the entire novel. Not a page could go by without her eyes filling with tears. If there was a The Romance of the Forest drinking game, and it was one sip of wine for “tears” and two for “gloomy”, you’d be on the floor halfway through the first chapter. Which is weird, for two reasons. The first is that she’s not a pushover. She does faint a few times (because of course she does), but she goes exploring, and trying to solve mysteries (even when they involve skeletons in dungeons), and walks alone in the forest, and flees when imprisoned. All in all, her actions are fairly ballsy given the era, despite the fact that she does it all while crying and fainting and sighing over things. And the second reason it’s strange is that for heaven’s sake, it was written by a woman! Is this what Radcliffe wanted to be, a delicately weeping young lady who was beyond reproach, but to whom deliciously horrible things just kept happening? Apparently we don’t really know enough about her to draw a conclusion on why her heroine is so feeble. But this isn’t a product of the era alone – plenty of female characters from this time were decidedly practical, from Lizzie Bennet to Fanny Hill. Apart from that there were a couple of other aspects of note. The first was that, towards the end, the chapters seemed to start rambling. There was a whole chapter, I think set in Nice, which seemed to serve no real purpose, and which only made me forget the villains of the piece who went a long time without a mention. And as I ground my way through these towards the end, and the remaining pages grew fewer and fewer, I found myself wondering how on earth the novel could possibly be resolved in time. I started suspecting that it never would be, and that the distancing of the antagonists was deliberate, so that when they never got their comeuppance, the reader wouldn’t be as indignant. I needn’t have worried. The final chapter or so suddenly launches into such a frenzied high gear that I found myself wondering when cocaine had entered English society, and if Mrs Radcliffe had just been offered some. All loose ends are tied, all villains bite the dust, and all heroes and heroines live happily ever after, and find themselves conveniently rich to boot. Huzzah, say I. I enjoyed The Romance of the Forest a great deal. It was an education for me, in a classic genre that I’d never really explored, and one which plays an important part of the development of English literature. I loved the free rein and joyful abandonment which was given to descriptions of places which the author had surely never visited, and I smiled at the occasional French character who declared that English writers were certainly the best there were. One to give a go when you’ve plenty of time and patience!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I made the proofing the book for Free Literature and Project Gutenberg will publish it. Thanks dear Dagny for making the smooth-reading of this book!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    "The Romance of the Forest" is a Gothic novel by Ann Radcliffe that was first published in 1791. Radcliffe was an English author and a pioneer of the Gothic novel. The novel was her first major success, it went through four editions in its first three years. However, very little is known about Radcliffe's life. In 1823, the year of her death, the Edinburgh Review, said: "She never appeared in public, nor mingled in private society, but kept herself apart, like the sweet bird that sings its solit "The Romance of the Forest" is a Gothic novel by Ann Radcliffe that was first published in 1791. Radcliffe was an English author and a pioneer of the Gothic novel. The novel was her first major success, it went through four editions in its first three years. However, very little is known about Radcliffe's life. In 1823, the year of her death, the Edinburgh Review, said: "She never appeared in public, nor mingled in private society, but kept herself apart, like the sweet bird that sings its solitary notes, shrouded and unseen." Christina Rossetti attempted to write a biography about her life, but abandoned the project for lack of information. Since so little was known about the author there were many rumors about her such as she had gone mad as a result of her dreadful imagination and been confined to an asylum, that she had been captured as a spy in Paris, or that she ate rare pork chops before retiring to stimulate nightmares for her novels. Whether any of these rumors were true no one seems to know. I've read that Radcliffe influenced many later authors, including the Marquis de Sade, Edgar Allan Poe, and Sir Walter Scott. While I would have been thrilled to know I inspired Edgar Allan Poe and Sir Walter Scott, I certainly would hope that nothing I ever wrote inspired the Marquis de Sade, but that's just me, except in my journal I've never written a word at all. I thought it was interesting that eventually Radcliffe did not like the direction that gothic literature was going and quit writing supposedly out of frustration, although I have no idea what she didn't like about it. Radcliffe published six novels in all but it was "The Romance of the Forest"that established her reputation as the first among her era's writers of romance. The novel is considered romantic in its vivid descriptions of landscapes and long travel scenes, yet the Gothic element is obvious through her use of the supernatural and lots of other scary things. As for gothic, I looked for the description and find it is supposed to cause a pleasing sort of terror. In the gothic novel we should have: " a threatening mystery and an ancestral curse, as well as countless trappings such as hidden passages and oft-fainting heroines." By the end " every seemingly supernatural intrusion is eventually traced back to natural causes." We must have a creepy setting: " The decaying, ruined scenery implies that at one time there was a thriving world. At one time the abbey, castle, or landscape was something treasured and appreciated. Now, all that lasts is the decaying shell of a once thriving dwelling." We have all this in "The Romance of the Forest". It was fun to read just to look for all of these elements. Our heroine, Adeline, is certainly in danger, she is always in danger from one thing or another, and spends a good deal of time fainting. Then we need a hero and we have him in Theodore, one of the attendants of the Marquis de Montalt. Speaking of the Marquis de Montalt, he is our very evil villian, and we needed a villian of course. Two of the other main characters are Monsieur Pierre de la Motte and his wife, Madame Constance de la Motte. La Motte spends his time going back and forth between one of the good guys and one of the bad guys. At the beginning of the novel la Motte and his wife are fleeing Paris where he is in debt and trying to escape his creditors. With them are their servants Peter and Annette, Peter provides much comedy to the novel. Of course it is dark as they flee and of course they enter a deep, dark forest where they come across Adeline and save her from a houseful of villians. Now their carriage breaks down and they walk through the woods coming upon an abandoned, ruined abbey. We definity needed a dark forest and a ruined abbey. Then they find out from the villagers a story of a man once trapped in the abbey never to be seen again. No one in the village will go near the abbey, we are told the only occupants are mice, bats, owls, and of course the ghost of the trapped guy. I don't want to tell you more of the plot, read the book if you want to know. I had fun reading this book, silly things and all. I was amused at myself that by the time the big mystery of the trapped man was solved I was so caught up in the ruins and forest tombs and creepy Marquis and other twists in the novel I had totally forgot there was a supposed ghost running around the ruin in the first place. There were a lot of times though when the last thing Adeline should have been doing was fainting and she annoyed me with almost never taking a single action to help herself, so because of that and one or two things I won't mention I give it three stars. I would definitely read it again, if I ever get through all my other books that is.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gigi

    An unknown girl given to a stranger, a deserted Abby, secret chambers, bones, a cruel Marquis, the handsome stranger- ahh... My first gothic romance. I read this after reading Northanger Abby (Austen)- It is a romance novel and adventure in one. A guilty pleasure for young girls whose imaginations had a tendency to run wild. What evil lurked each time they took the carriage out? What unknown spirit lived within the forest? As for the book itself I thought it has a pretty good story line...predict An unknown girl given to a stranger, a deserted Abby, secret chambers, bones, a cruel Marquis, the handsome stranger- ahh... My first gothic romance. I read this after reading Northanger Abby (Austen)- It is a romance novel and adventure in one. A guilty pleasure for young girls whose imaginations had a tendency to run wild. What evil lurked each time they took the carriage out? What unknown spirit lived within the forest? As for the book itself I thought it has a pretty good story line...predictable for a romance but still enough plot twists that it was interesting. Maybe not a beach read but a cold winter night one. The language could be a bit extraneous at times and poems are often quoted in the narrative, but each time I came to one of these passages I could just imagine a young girl trying to picture the scene and desiring as much description as possible. What is more romantic then men and women able to quote poetry during times of duress or to their lover. Why else would girls have to learn poetry?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Surreysmum

    [These notes were made in June, 1981:]. Source - Robarts. Finished May/81. Having read Castles and Sicilian Romance, I am amazed at the astonishing improvement in this book. For my money it is better than Udolpho - it is mercifully free of the excessive natural description, and its death-cell scenes stir me a little more than Emily's gallant defence of her property. The Marquis is not, perhaps, so masterly a villain as Montoni, but then, neither can live up to Schedoni, and I find Adeline and he [These notes were made in June, 1981:]. Source - Robarts. Finished May/81. Having read Castles and Sicilian Romance, I am amazed at the astonishing improvement in this book. For my money it is better than Udolpho - it is mercifully free of the excessive natural description, and its death-cell scenes stir me a little more than Emily's gallant defence of her property. The Marquis is not, perhaps, so masterly a villain as Montoni, but then, neither can live up to Schedoni, and I find Adeline and her lover a little more independent-minded that Emily/Ellena and Valancourt/Vivaldi. The best Radcliffe I've read so far, tho' I've not yet finished The Italian.

  16. 4 out of 5

    عماد العتيلي

    
A good read. It's exaggerated somehow which is really annoying! I used to love such novels maybe two years ago, but now I think I don't! As simple as that! There were some beautiful quotes in the novel. It's language is pretty neat. I'm gonna read Radcliffe's other popular novel Adolpho :) I'm really excited about it. 
A good read. It's exaggerated somehow which is really annoying! I used to love such novels maybe two years ago, but now I think I don't! As simple as that! There were some beautiful quotes in the novel. It's language is pretty neat. I'm gonna read Radcliffe's other popular novel Adolpho :) I'm really excited about it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lady Drinkwell

    I recently went to an exhibition on female Gothic literature in Jane Austen's old abode Chawton. Obviously the booksale at the end included novels by Anne Racliffe, much loved by Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey. I think the Mysteries of Udolpho had sold out so I bought the Romance of the Forest. I imagine Radcliffe would have been amused to see her books are now Oxford Modern classes as I am pretty sure they were the pot boilers of the day. In this story the pure innocent and beautiful Ade I recently went to an exhibition on female Gothic literature in Jane Austen's old abode Chawton. Obviously the booksale at the end included novels by Anne Racliffe, much loved by Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey. I think the Mysteries of Udolpho had sold out so I bought the Romance of the Forest. I imagine Radcliffe would have been amused to see her books are now Oxford Modern classes as I am pretty sure they were the pot boilers of the day. In this story the pure innocent and beautiful Adeline goes through many dreadful trials but gets through them due to her innocence, purity, beauty and excessive swooning. It starts off in a ruined abbey in a forest where there are skeletons, secret rooms and other most dreadful things. Then she meets up with a terrible Marquis who seems to have designs upon her purity.. he reminded me a bit of Count Olaf in a series of Unfortunate events... shed think shed got rid of him and then he would turn up again Then she goes off and visits lots of lovely places in Switzerland and Savoie and goes sailing around the Mediterranean on a boat. Those were my favourite bits as the scenery was very well described. The language was delightfully naive. I particularly loved the "stupendous mountains" every time a mountain was described .. i live in the mountains but have never heard them described as stupendous. Perhaps I shall start doing so myself now.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Francine Maessen

    I almost can't believe I finally finished this horrible book. First, I just thought it was incredibly boring, I just kept hoping it would get better, but although towards the end more things happen, that doesn't mean it's any good. The end is incredibly far-fetched, depending completely on all kinds of coincidence. The main character is supposed to be the inspirational kind of goody-goody pious girl, but she just seemed very annoying to me. She's constantly fainting and not able to deal with her I almost can't believe I finally finished this horrible book. First, I just thought it was incredibly boring, I just kept hoping it would get better, but although towards the end more things happen, that doesn't mean it's any good. The end is incredibly far-fetched, depending completely on all kinds of coincidence. The main character is supposed to be the inspirational kind of goody-goody pious girl, but she just seemed very annoying to me. She's constantly fainting and not able to deal with her situation. Not the kind of hero I like. The other characters are also very flat and it was very hard to empathize with them. I had to read this book for a course on gothic literature, but it doesn't really seem that gothic to me. There is no role for the supernatural and it's not really that scary. It's mostly just people walking through dark corridors.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    3.5 stars Quite like 'The Mysteries of Udolpho,' but still good - I'm not convinced by her poetry though! (also if anyone's interested this is the kind of book Austen was mocking in 'Northanger Abbey' 😂) 3.5 stars Quite like 'The Mysteries of Udolpho,' but still good - I'm not convinced by her poetry though! (also if anyone's interested this is the kind of book Austen was mocking in 'Northanger Abbey' 😂)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    I love these old books. This one was published circa 1791. Times and places I will never get to experience except through books. 4 stars. For some reason it won't let me add the stars... I love these old books. This one was published circa 1791. Times and places I will never get to experience except through books. 4 stars. For some reason it won't let me add the stars...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This review was originally published on warmdayswillnevercease.wordpress.com Firstly, the plot was great but it was a tad formulaic in my opinion. I’ve read a lot of Gothic novels though and it’s easy to notice patterns or tropes when you’re reading a lot of novels like this. However, it was still a pretty great plot which was full of intrigue and terror so I still enjoyed it. The Romance of the Forest is also beautifully written. Ann Radcliffe’s writing is so descriptive and it speaks to all of This review was originally published on warmdayswillnevercease.wordpress.com Firstly, the plot was great but it was a tad formulaic in my opinion. I’ve read a lot of Gothic novels though and it’s easy to notice patterns or tropes when you’re reading a lot of novels like this. However, it was still a pretty great plot which was full of intrigue and terror so I still enjoyed it. The Romance of the Forest is also beautifully written. Ann Radcliffe’s writing is so descriptive and it speaks to all of your senses. It’s captivating and you become fully immersed in the world that she has created. It’s just such a pleasure to read. I really liked the characters in this novel too. Radcliffe wrote the most amazing heroines who were savvy and intelligent. Adeline knows her own mind and is determined to escape the awful Marquis who is adamant in making her his wife/mistress. I also really liked Peter who is a ‘domestic servant’ in the novel but he plays a huge role in Adeline’s life as he warns her about the danger she’s in and he helps her plot her escape. I think all of the characters are well written and well rounded in this book. They all have an important role to play in the plot and there are no characters that are just in the book for no reason. Finally, I loved the ending. I won’t spoil it but it’s wonderful and it’s a really satisfying conclusion to the book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Verity Brown

    After being stultified by The Mysteries of Udolpho, I was little hesitant to read another of Radcliffe's books. Consequently, I was pleasantly surprised by The Romance of the Forest, which is much shorter and considerably less silly. The heroine starts out as quite a sensible girl, although as the book moves forward she develops a tendency to swoon. But overall the mystery plays out nicely, as does the romance. The villain is usefully villainous (with logical motivations). Aside from the excessi After being stultified by The Mysteries of Udolpho, I was little hesitant to read another of Radcliffe's books. Consequently, I was pleasantly surprised by The Romance of the Forest, which is much shorter and considerably less silly. The heroine starts out as quite a sensible girl, although as the book moves forward she develops a tendency to swoon. But overall the mystery plays out nicely, as does the romance. The villain is usefully villainous (with logical motivations). Aside from the excessive poetry (which I simply skipped over), this was really a rather enjoyable story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Yoana

    What a relentless bore. I guess the ~250 years since its publication make a difference, because I'm definitely not the intended audience for this. And the writing is very clumsy IMO. Its only redeeming qualities are its firm moral centre and the rather insightful descriptions of the evolution of feelings. The heroine, Adeline, is an absolute Mary Sue, and towards the end I was almost hoping she'd just not recover from one of her regular fainting spells. This novel just throws into sharper relief What a relentless bore. I guess the ~250 years since its publication make a difference, because I'm definitely not the intended audience for this. And the writing is very clumsy IMO. Its only redeeming qualities are its firm moral centre and the rather insightful descriptions of the evolution of feelings. The heroine, Adeline, is an absolute Mary Sue, and towards the end I was almost hoping she'd just not recover from one of her regular fainting spells. This novel just throws into sharper relief the genius of Jane Austen - this and "Northanger Abbey" were written what, 20 years apart, and read like there's a century between them - Austen's writing is trim, subtle, insightful, multi-layered, and most importantly, enduringly modern. It's no wonder she's such a big deal to this day.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shiloah

    I love gothic novels. This one is just as good, if not better than the Mysteries of Udolpho. I can always count on murder, clean romance, intrigue, corruption, lessons learned, and a happy ending. What I don't like about gothic novels: the fainting. Women are nothing but victims and the men are always tearful too. It's kind of an emotional roller coaster...for them anyway. LOL I love gothic novels. This one is just as good, if not better than the Mysteries of Udolpho. I can always count on murder, clean romance, intrigue, corruption, lessons learned, and a happy ending. What I don't like about gothic novels: the fainting. Women are nothing but victims and the men are always tearful too. It's kind of an emotional roller coaster...for them anyway. LOL

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laurajeanie

    To be honest: I only started reading this because it's mentioned in "EMMA." It quit reading it half way through because I told myself "If this stupid girl faints ONE MORE TIME, I'm done." Two pages later, she did. And I was. If you like a heroine with even just a little spunk, this book is not for you. To be honest: I only started reading this because it's mentioned in "EMMA." It quit reading it half way through because I told myself "If this stupid girl faints ONE MORE TIME, I'm done." Two pages later, she did. And I was. If you like a heroine with even just a little spunk, this book is not for you.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Reads Books

    This may possibly be my last Ann Radcliffe novel. The enjoyment of The Romance of the Forest was much greater than Mysteries of Udolpho, but her novels are SO incredibly exhausting to read. The pace of The Romance of the Forest was quicker and more action packed than MOU, and the characters seemed much better written. Not too bad, just took forever.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carla Remy

    Somewhat entertaining, with all the early gothic themes. It got a bit overlong, and the characters were flat. What more should I expect?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jersy

    While this book started off really interesting and mysterious, my interest in it began to decrease after a while. The writing just drags, I literally skipped pages without feeling I missed something. It was written poeticly, and even includes some poems, which a lot may like but I didn't care for that, since it just added to the feeling that this book oftentimes didn't get to the point. While some characters seemed fascinating in the first couple of pages there was not enough to them to keep me e While this book started off really interesting and mysterious, my interest in it began to decrease after a while. The writing just drags, I literally skipped pages without feeling I missed something. It was written poeticly, and even includes some poems, which a lot may like but I didn't care for that, since it just added to the feeling that this book oftentimes didn't get to the point. While some characters seemed fascinating in the first couple of pages there was not enough to them to keep me engaged. Adeline was especially plain: while I felt sorry for her sad life there was not much character except weeping all the time. I felt like I didn't get her so her journey became less meaningful to me. Neither did I understand why everyone fell for her immidiatly. There were some good bits: the abbey was atmospheric, there was a nice twist and some other enjoyable stuff, but near the end I just couldn't wait until it was over.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dayna Smith

    A classic work of historical fiction, one of the first Gothic Romances ever written. Radcliffe's beautiful descriptions of nature combine with her use of poetry and prose to tell the story of Adeline. Raised in a convent, she refuses to take the veil and after being removed and taken to a small cottage is given into the care of la Motte and his wife - gentry fleeing Paris after la Motte became embroiled in a scandal. Agreeing to take Adeline under his care, la Motte takes the young girl and his A classic work of historical fiction, one of the first Gothic Romances ever written. Radcliffe's beautiful descriptions of nature combine with her use of poetry and prose to tell the story of Adeline. Raised in a convent, she refuses to take the veil and after being removed and taken to a small cottage is given into the care of la Motte and his wife - gentry fleeing Paris after la Motte became embroiled in a scandal. Agreeing to take Adeline under his care, la Motte takes the young girl and his wife to live in an abandoned and desolate abbey. When the owner of the abbey discovers them a series of events are set in motion that will change all their lives forever. If you ever wondered where Gothic Romance began, read Radcliffe. Sometimes difficult to read, the plot is twisted, and the prose is beautifully descriptive.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Juushika

    A family in exile has a young woman thrust upon them by brigands, and they take shelter ruins of an abbey. This is so very Radcliffe, and it's easy to see why it was popular: trashy, tropey, pulpy, all in an atmospheric and romantic way. The reveals and interconnections have a sense of inevitability and the antagonist looms over the narrative with a real sense of threat; the forest and sublime landscapes stretch in a perpetual summer. It's also didactic and contrived, and Radcliffe's poetry is c A family in exile has a young woman thrust upon them by brigands, and they take shelter ruins of an abbey. This is so very Radcliffe, and it's easy to see why it was popular: trashy, tropey, pulpy, all in an atmospheric and romantic way. The reveals and interconnections have a sense of inevitability and the antagonist looms over the narrative with a real sense of threat; the forest and sublime landscapes stretch in a perpetual summer. It's also didactic and contrived, and Radcliffe's poetry is consistently dreadful; and it lacks the organic complexity I found in The Mysteries of Udolpho. So whether it's good is debatable, but it scratched that gothic lit itch for me.

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