Belindaby Maria Edgeworth
Maria Edgeworth won the admiration of contemporaries Jane Austen and Walter Scott and later writers such as Thackeray. In BELINDA (1801) she tackles issues of gender and race in a manner at once comic and thought-provoking, as her heroine Belinda braves the perils of the marriage market and learns to think for herself.
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On the surface this book is the story of Belinda and her search for a husband- but it touches on many themes that are worth thinking about even today. The characters are interesting and multi-faceted. They are not all "good" or "bad". Edgeworth shows insight into many different aspects of human nature and conveys them skillfully and without overdoing it. Although her "messages" are clear, her skill is subtle. The book ended somewhat unconventionally- but given the many unconventional topics that were covered in this book- I felt it was appropriate. You don't really know how the story ends- instead you are given your choice of a "happily ever after" or a "heart warming scene" and a challenge to have the "wit" to find the moral of the story.