Sunday, December 21, 2008

Madam de Beaumont and The Count de Vinevil

As my Garland edition puts these two novels by Penelope Aubin together, I thought I'd review them together.

The Life of Madam de Beaumont, a French Lady (1721): This is a short novel about a very virtuous family who are separated due to Madam de Beaumont's refusal to convert to Catholicism. This gives Aubin an opportunity to do some Catholic bashing, and also subject the three protagonists of the novel (de Beaumont, Madam de Beaumont, and their daughter Belinda) to all sorts of wild adventures. I think Belinda actually gets kidnapped three times whilst she is being kidnapped. As in, she's being carried off somewhere, only for somebody else to fall in love with her and carry her off, only to be kidnapped whilst trying to escape from that person and so on and so forth. Despite all these lurid adventures, this is a very pious, moralistic book about the importance of virtue and chastity. The de Beaumont family are rewarded for their morality and patience. It's all a little tiresome, really. The plot is vaguely Eliza Haywood, but not half as sexy or well written and with this priggish morality brushed over the top.

The Strange Adventures of the Count de Vinevil and His Family (1721): This is another short novel about a nobleman down on his luck who decides to move his family to Turkey so that he can make money as a merchant. Of course, this doesn't exactly go as planned. His beautiful daughter is lusted over by almost everybody, apparently, and a Turkish nobleman who is determined to obtain her by any means necessary causes all kinds of trouble for them. It's all very racist, of course. The Turkish people are lustful, extravagant, and violent, whereas the French, the English and the Spanish (in other words, the Christians) are the very epitome of perfect Christian morality. I did find this more entertaining than the former novel, though, because there is a very strange section of the novel where the main characters have a Robinson Crusoe-esque adventure, which I found rather hilarious.

All in all, though, I'd much rather read Haywood.

No comments: