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The History Of Henry Esmond
by William Makepeace Thackeray
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Out of modesty, one supposes, the impossibly virtuous (and fictional) Henry Esmond narrates his adventures in the third person. Raised to believe himself a nobleman's love-child, he eventually discovers he is a legitimate heir. This knowledge he suppresses in favor of his near relations and benefactors, especially the Jacobite Lady Castlewood and her daughter, both of whom he loves devotedly, and one of whom he eventually marries. In the meantime, neither he nor his kin can escape the political, martial, and religious turmoil of Queen Anne's England. Published in 1852, this novel helped establish Thackeray as Charles Dickens's rival in popularity. Narrator Gordon Griffin, who has previously tackled both, here displays an enthusiastic sincerity that contributes much charm to his deep understanding of the tone and milieu of this novel. Though seeming to downplay the melancholy that seeps into the prose, he manages to convey it without letting it overwhelm the vigor of the writing. Y.R. © AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
Published in 1853, William Thackeray's novel is set in the reign of Queen Anne and follows the troubled progress of a gentleman and an officer in Marlborough's army as he wrestles with his allegiance to the old Tory-Catholic England until, disillusioned, he comes to terms of a kind with the Whiggish-Protestant future.
Orphaned in the England of the later Stuarts, Henry Esmond is raised by his aristocratic, Jacobite relatives the Castlewoods. As a young man he falls in love with both Lady Castlewood and Beatrix, her beautiful, headstrong daughter, and is inspired to join the ultimately unsuccessful campaign to reinstate James Stuart to the throne. The book is written in the form of memoirs of Henry Esmond who was an settler of Virginia in the early 1700's.
Thackeray valued Henry Esmond more than any of his other novels and it displays many of his own memories and emotions.
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