A Fair Barbarian


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(1881)



This is a charming and delightful story of young Octavia Bassett who unexpectedly arrives from America to visit her Aunt Belinda in the quiet and ever-so-proper town of Slowbridge, England. What follows is a thoroughly enjoyable tale of American brashness and straightforwardness clashing with English reserve and propriety with much to be learned on both sides. Fans of Jane Austen's writing may find Frances Hodgson Burnett's lighter and more modern work also to their taste. --Submitted by G McFall

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A Fair Barbarian

I just finished reading this - all through it Henry James's "Daisy Miller" kept comming to mind. Octavia is certainly almost the same character as Daisy, and Barold certainly brings Wintergreen to mind. This is a simpler story though - the tension is between English and American social norms, rather than, as in Daisy Miller, between main street American and elite ex-patriate Americans. Some of the scenes are even remarkably familiar: the tea party and the moonlight for one. The ending was strange: from the overall tone of the book you'd think that there should be a happy ending, and there is with Octavia and Lucia happily paired off (not to spoil anything if you haven't read it yet!) but still the final lines are not happy. It ends sadly with the poor Rev. Poppleton left alone with the flowers - Again so like Daisy Miller! Although there is a wedding instead of a funeral the book still manages to end on the same sorrowful, wistful, note as Daisy Miller. All together, this seemed like a more amusing but less subtle and less socially acute re-telling of the Daisy Miller story. I looked up the dates, and Daisy Miller was published a few years before this book; I would be very interested to know if the author had read it.


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