Classic Book Review: A Sicilian Romance

A Sicilian Romance by Ann Radcliffe

A Sicilian Romance
by Ann Radcliffe

4 out of 5 stars

Julia falls in love with the dashing young Hippolitus, but her father insists that she must marry the evil Duke. Julia’s brother tries to help her escape from the clutches of her ruthless father by arranging an elopement, but their plans are betrayed and Julia is caught. Julia goes through every kind of disaster and terrifying mishap, fleeing for her life and weeping along the way.

This is Gothic melodrama at its best! Julia dissolves into tears, is frozen with terror, collapses under the strain of horror, and is prostrate with grief in every single chapter. Several other ladies, not to be outdone, also fainted on several occasions. Everyone is constantly exclaiming some version of “Alas, woe is me!”

Everything that possibly can go wrong for Julia does go wrong in the plot. It’s one catastrophe after another for the entire book! There are so many lucky coincidences and timely misfortunes that it became funny, and when that plot twist finally arrived, it was so obvious that I didn’t bat an eye.

The writing is laboriously descriptive and extravagant, peppered with pompous poetry which various characters recite or compose on the spot. I started skimming over the descriptive passages, and skipped the poetry altogether.

I was both charmed and frustrated with Julia. She’s sweet and virtuous and adorable. I was glad to see that she really takes action when she has the choice. She doesn’t sit around weeping and fainting all the time, only most of the time.

Despite the wild plot and the sensational melodrama, I really enjoyed reading this book! It’s so mournful and terrifying that I found it funny!

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