Maria Edgeworth was as popular in her day as her great contemporary Sir Walter Scott, and 'The Absentee' (1812) is her best novel, a work which vividly evokes the conditions of the Irish peasantry and launches a sustained attack on the Anglo-Irish absentee landlord class. John Ruskin said that 'you can learn more of Irish politics [by reading 'The Absentee'] than from a thousand columns out of blue-books.'
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About the Author
Maria Edgeworth (1 January 1768 - 22 May 1849) was a prolific Anglo-Irish writer of adults' and children's literature. She was one of the first realist writers in children's literature and was a significant figure in the evolution of the novel in Europe. She held advanced views, for a woman of her time, on estate management, politics and education, and corresponded with some of the leading literary and economic writers, including Sir Walter Scott and David Ricardo.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Absentee based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
I really liked this book. You could see the ending coming a mile off, but that didn't really spoil it. I enjoyed the characters: they were written very humorously, almost as caricatures, yet were very well developed and very 'real'.Edgeworth's prose style is open and accessible, and contrasts with the more flowery writing of the contemporary Gothic genre. While the events of the novel are very much of their time (the book was first published in 1812), the characters could be from any period, and there are many modern parallels. The author's passion for Ireland, political convictions and concern for the Irish people all come through strongly. Although it is a very political novel, it is not a political story; for those who are entirely uninterested in early nineteenth century Anglo-Irish absenteeism (which, I should think, is most people), the book is entertaining for its own sake.