The Amelia Alderson Opie Archive
1813 Tales of Real Life
Monthly Review, 72 (1813): 326-7.


While some authors are satisfied with merely amusing, and others almost affront their readers by the pertinacity of their admonitions, Mrs Opie appears to take a happy medium; generally proposing to herself to shew the effects of some virtue or the consequences of some error, and seldom losing sight of this object, though she courteously allows her readers to draw their own conclusions from her tales.

In the present publication, the characters of 'Lady Anne and Lady Jane' exhibit the importance, to young females, of uniting pleasing manners with steady principles; and the tale contains some dialogues which are exquisitely natural. The history of 'Austin and his Wife' admirably displays the evils resulting from either undue severity or improper indulgence in education. The composition, however, intitled 'The Mysterious Stranger,' though it awakens interest and conjecture, turns them to less profit than Mrs Opie's other narratives generally create; since, if the heroine were supposed to [327] love her second husband, her story would be immoral, though perhaps more natural; and, as it now stands, her feelings and conduct are at variance, both being too improbable to afford warning or instruction.

With the exception of this story, the volumes possess the same pathetic eloquence, and accurate developement of human motives and feelings, which must always charm in the writings of this author; and by which she is enabled to make the strangest fictions appear in her narration to be Tales of Real Life.


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