Poor Fanny Burney (do you think it's disrespectful to call her Fanny and not Frances--I see both names used...) was set aside during much of December in the run up to the holidays and general busyness of work and life, but I am happy to have finally gotten back to reading Camilla again this weekend. I didn't really have a set schedule in mind, but I did have an idea of reading at least fifty (or so) pages a week in the hope of making steady, if slow, progress. I didn't read quite as much as I wanted due to other distractions, but I was glad to see that it wasn't difficult to reorient myself back into the story without much problem.
So let's see, where was I? I was introduced to a young Camilla who is one of three daughters of the reverend Mr. Tyrold. Her elder sister is Lavinia and younger sister is Eugenia. They have one brother, Lionel, who is away at school at the beginning of the story. I feel bad for Eugenia as she suffered from smallpox as a child and so is now burdened with the marks and everyone around her notes her plainness and she is often overlooked in favor of the other pretty young ladies.
Sir Hugh Tyrold is the reverend's brother and has taken up residence at Cleves, in the same neighborhood as Camilla, when he began suffering from poor health. He's kindhearted but meddlesome and it's no doubt due to his attempts at matchmaking that is going to move the story along for much of the 900+ pages of the story. His ward is Edgar Mandlebert who he has decided will wed another of his wards--Indiana Clermont. As for Camilla, Sir Hugh finds her totally delightful, and wants only to have have her for his own--not wife, of course, but ward/or companion. Because she caught smallpox while in the care of Sir Hugh, Eugenia is made heir to his fortune as a small way of compensating for her illness, so things are a little jumbled up but Sir Hugh has everyone's futures all planned out.
And now. Camilla is seventeen and it's time to introduce her into Society. Actually it's Indiana that both Sir Hugh and Miss Margland, her governess, want to introduce into Society in order to get the ball rolling so to speak. Sir Hugh is ready for Indiana to make a match with Edgar, and Miss Margland is delighted with the idea of her pupil marrying and going off to London (since she would go with her) as the countryside holds little diversion for her. What better thing than a ball?
The young people attend the assembly and as the regiment is quartered in the neighborhood the evening promises to offer everyone distraction and enjoyment. Indiana is the belle of the ball, overshadowing even the lovely Camilla, but Camilla isn't an envious girl and anyway will not pass long unnoticed. Several new characters are introduced including Sir Sedley Clarendel who does not make a very good first impression. He's a snobbish dandy--reminiscent of a Mr. Darcy really (though not quite the same). But it's Mr. Dubster who tries to push his attentions on Camilla with somewhat disastrous results. The situation is not helped by Lionel who is a prankster and trouble maker and tries to push the two together. I had a chuckle when it was discovered that Dubster had lost one of his gloves, and much to the consternation of Miss Margland still wanted to dance with Camilla. Surely it is okay to dance with only one glove?
"'O! Sir,' cried Miss Margland, 'that's such a thing as never was heard of. I can't possibly consent to let Miss Camilla dance in such a manner as that'."
Apparently not! The only way to avoid such a compromising situation is to leave the ball early! But not before Mrs. Arlebury makes an entrance and with all the young men crowding about her. She looks like a character who'll cause a little trouble. The plot thickens.
Sorry, today's post is a little slapdash, I'm hoping to get through the rest of the first volume this week and maybe finally crack open Fanny Burney's Journal. I'll be checking back in next week or so, as soon as I've managed to do one or the other!