This is my second Classics Club read, which I think is pretty good, being that it's only January 16th. This one was a fun read. It was a running read and so I got to listen to a little every morning. Hearing plays dramatized is really the best way to experience a play, if you're not going to go see it.
She Stoops to Conquer, set in England in the 1700s is about Kate Hardcastle, a young woman who has fallen madly in love with a young man too shy to court girls of his own class who, instead, spends his time pursuing servant girls and barmaids. Kate meets this man, Marlow, who is being sent by his father to meet her as a possible suitor. Kate is infatuated at once but, of course, Marlow is not.
Meanwhile, there's a secondary romance between Kate's best friend, Miss Constance Neville, and Marlow's best friend, Hastings. In order to win Marlow over, Kate decides to play the part of a barmaid and, sure enough, he falls in love with her. And then it gets so exceedingly complicated that I'm not sure I could even begin to summarize. There were so many ruses and double-ruses and all kinds of mistakes of character that I must admit to my head spinning at several moments.
There are other characters involved in the plot, too. There is Mrs. Hardcastle, the miserly mother of Kate who is forcing Constance (who, by the way, is her niece) and her nasty son Tony (whose tricks are part of what make the whole plot so convoluted) to marry. There are Constance's jewels, which Tony wants to steal and Hastings wants to use so they can elope. There is Mr. Hardcastle who is the main deciding factor in whether or not Kate will marry Marlow. And there is a whole host of bartenders and sneaky servants who fill the pages and add to the general confusion.
I had a lot of fun reading (er, listening to) this. I'm always surprised when I read a book this old and find myself laughing out loud like I would at modern comedy. I think we as a modern culture have a bit of a representation of literature and culture at this time period as being stiff and boring and completely lacking in any kind of emotion. And so, when something proves us wrong in that assumption, we are completely surprised. This book was like that. It proved that, no, people did like a good joke, even back then, and they actually laughed at most of the same things we do today.
The story in itself is very good. It's not a well-known classic in the sense that all high schoolers read it, so if you didn't study theater or English in college, it's probably not something you would have come across. I hadn't read the book, but had heard it mentioned in passing several times. I'm so glad I picked up this book. It was a really fun read and a great way to start out my year of Classics Club.