Tag Archives: Canada

The History of Emily Montague Vol. II, by Frances Moore Brooke

As I rehearsed for this recording, I was inspired by characters from Jane Austen books, movies, and audiobooks, especially Lydia Bennet (Pride and Prejudice), Emma Woodhouse (Emma), Lucy Steele (Sense and Sensibility), and Mary Musgrove (Persuasion). The History of Emily Montague is a novel about courtship during the mid 1700s between silly young girls and awkward gentlemen. Frances Moore Brooke probably influenced Jane Austen’s work, as their lifelines overlapped, and they were both from England, and their writing styles are similar (e.g., characters, issues).

Volume 1 describes the predicament of Emily Montague as she discovers that marrying Sir George Clayton, the man whom her uncle chose for her, might not be in her best interest as she finds herself attracted to Colonel Rivers. Her decision to spend the winter with her friend Arabella Fermor increases her opportunities to distance herself from Sir George and align with Colonel Rivers.

I recorded the letters that Arabella wrote in Volume 2 from the 4-volume set. Most of her correspondence is to her and Emily’s dear friend back in London (Lucy Rivers) who happens to be Colonel Rivers’s sister, and who has her own romantic story to tell. Here are the first two letters from Volume 2.

I am delighted by this story’s turn from Arabella’s immersion in flirting to her describing the Canadian landscape at some length. What an interesting choice of character to do such a job for the author as she was the first European to publish a novel in and about Canada. I am familiar with “one of the noblest works of nature,” which Arabella describes, and am saddened as I think about how it has changed as a result of development, especially in the U.S., particularly from the St. Lawrence Seaway.

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