from The Critical Review’s 1798 review of Mrs Regina Maria Roche’s classic Children of the Abbey.

The novel was praised for being a ‘very entertaining and well-written production’,  to which was appended  the assurance that the novel can  ‘safely’ be ‘recommended to our female readers.

Such a remark placed the novel immediately in the realms of the mass of mediocre, circulating library fiction, an association that as Dorothy Blakey points out in The Minerva Press 1790-1820, had become for critics of the time, a ‘convenient epithet of contempt’ (p1). As such, this bestseller was deprived of the notice of which  its success suggested it worthy.

Some things never change.

A Review of the Contemporary Critical Reception of Regina Maria Roche by Emma Hodinott