Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Bracelets Or, Amiability And Industry Rewarded  -  1850
Maria Edgeworth
54 pages
genre  -  Inspirational Fiction
my rating  -  2 out of 5 stars

Here is part of the first paragraph of the story:  "In a beautiful and retired part of England lived Mrs.Villars, a lady whose accurate understanding, benevolent heart, and steady temper, peculiarly fitted her for the most difficult, as well as the most important of all occupations - the education of youth.  This task she had undertaken; and twenty young persons were put under her care...No young people could be happier...They rose with fresh cheerfulness in the morning; eager to pursue their various occupations... and retired to rest satisfied with themselves and pleased with each other."

As you can tell from the excerpt, this is a story designed to instill virtues in children and young adults.  This type of literature was popular from the mid 17th Century to the mid 18th century. 

The Bracelets is about two girls (Cecilia and Leonora) who are in contention to winning a bracelet.  It is awarded to Cecilia, but through carelessness and vanity, Cecilia's friends turn against her.  The girls at the school decide to have another contest.  A second bracelet will be given to the girl who is most loved. It looks like Leonora will win this one. 

While I enjoyed the plot of the story, it was difficult to swallow all the blatant religious overtones.  I realize that this was the method used back then to inspire the youth to follow what they learned at church, but I am not used to such an obvious manner of persuasion.  I'd rather read  between the lines and draw my own conclusions.

About the author  -

Maria Edgeworth was born in 1768 in Oxfordshire, England.  She was a  writer of childrens' and adult literature.  Her father's attention became fully focused on her in 1781 when she nearly lost her sight to an eye infection.  Returning home at the age of 14, she took charge of her many younger siblings and was home-tutored in law, Irish economics and politics, science, and literature by her father. Miss Edgeworth used her fictional stories to express her views of political and social issues of the time.  Castle Rackrent, Belinda, and The Absentee were Edgeworth's  most well-known works.  She never married. 

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