What can I say about Betsy Thoughtless? She is a gentleman's daughter with two older brothers; she's also an orphan living with one of her trustees, Mr. Goodman, and his wife, Lady Mellasin, and her daughter, Flora. Betsy is pretty and vivacious and comfortably well-off. She's also proud and disdains being told what to do. By anyone. Many handsome young men vie for her attention, both honorable gentlemen and entitled scoundrels. And she enjoys the power her youth and beauty gives her over all of them, playing them off one another for her own amusement.
"She played with her lovers, as she did with her monkey; but expected more obedience from them."
While not deliberately cruel, she is young, impulsive, self-absorbed and thoughtless. And very definitely NOT ready to marry. This book is a chronicle of her innocent indiscretions and frivolous follies. It's full of little dramas and small tragedies, from duels and assignations, to jealous friends, secrets and lies, and even several attempts at sexual assault. And Miss Betsy Thoughtless is at the center of them all.
"She had a great deal of wit, but was too volative for reflection; and as a ship without sufficient ballast is tossed about at the pleasure of every wind that blows, so was she hurried through the ocean of life, just as each predominant passion directed."
This book is 600 pages long, which means I'm not even going to attempt to describe all that happens in it to Betsy. I will say that I found it very readable despite its length. Although I thought the plot, what there was of it, did get a little tedious after awhile. I probably would have liked it more if it had been edited down by 300 pages. And I wish I could say I liked Betsy for her spunk and independent spirit, but mostly I found her constant need to be amused at the expense of her gentleman callers, her thoughtless imprudence, and stubborn refusal to listen to the advice of Mr. Goodman or either of her two brothers when it came to her behavior, both tiresome and frustrating. One thing I did love was all the crazy words like eclaircissement and raillery used throughout. But best of all? This is a book that has been sitting on my shelf gathering dust for years, and I finally get to check it off my TBR list! And since it was first published in 1751, this book also counts as my Pre-1800 Classic for Karen's Back to the Classics Reading Challenge. So, that's a double win!
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