15 February 2012
Book Review: Wild Irish Girl
Author: Sydney Owenson
Publisher/Year: Oxford World's Classic / 1806
Source/Format: TBR Shelves / Print
Date Finished: 8 February 2012
Book # 6
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
The Short and Sweet of It
Horatio has been a bad boy, and as his punishment, he is sent to his father's estate in Ireland. While there, he infiltrates the residence of the local Irish royalty his family displaced. He quickly becomes enamored of the family and their
A Bit of a Ramble
This story's subtitle is "A National Tale" and I think that subtitle is more relevant than the title itself. Much of this book is focused on A Look at the Legend of Ireland: History, Culture, and Politics. The "wild Irish girl" in question, Glorvina, is certainly a focal point as she is the vehicle through which much of the Irish culture is filtered for our English protagonist, Horatio. While the romance between Horatio and Glorvina remains at the forefront of Horatio's letters, it is the reversal of Horatio's biased opinions of the Irish and the breakdown of Irish stereotypes that really takes center stage (and comprises the majority of the text).
I think if I was in the right mood while reading this, I could have learned a crapton about Ireland, especially if I had done further research on some of the information. I really am interested to know if the history presented is in fact true. Unfortunately, I do not currently have the time to delve into a project of this sort, so I took the lessons learned at face value and maintained my focus on the story rather than the national history.
And the "story" - the romance - is certainly worthy of attention. Horatio and Glorvina have a slow, understated courtship which is sweet in its subtlety (a type of romance not popular in contemporary lit). Their love is practically unsaid, a connection of minds and personality. To add a twist to the tale, the reader receives the plot through letters Horatio is writing to one of his friends back in England. I find epistolary novels interesting in that they have such a unique point of view - so focused on the thoughts of the protagonist.
Something I didn't like: I would like to start by saying that I adore footnotes. I like annotated copies of works. I actually enjoy reading books about books. And yet, I was annoyed with the footnotes in this book, and pretty much skimmed them (okay, I may even have just completely skipped a few). I couldn't fully explain why these footnotes are so different from those I adore. I guess, in part, I didn't understand why some of the footnotes were footnotes. So much of the text is taken up with discussing Irish history and culture that the separate footnotes for certain historical/cultural tidbits confused me. And I wasn't too impressed with the tone of the footnotes; they weren't that interestingly written (and many footnotes I have really enjoyed are brimming with personality). I guess I need a unique separation and a real voice for my footnotes.
You may be wondering with so much I liked and so little I didn't why I gave this book an Accept rating. The answer isn't easy to articulate. An Accept means if someone offers it to you, you might as well give it a go.
To get an Accept rating, a book must entertain me and/or make me think, but probably didn't make me do both. Accept(able) books are good reads that I enjoy and promptly forget. Quite a few guilty pleasures fall into this category as well as intellectual books that weren't entertaining.
The Wild Irish Girl was a wee bit entertaining and a wee bit informative but didn't wow me on either count. Hence, Accept. I will say, though, that I really mean it when I say if you get the chance, you should read it.
This book counts towards Reading Goal #1: Reading Off My Own Shelves and specifically my Classics Reading Project.