These last days of the semester, in between Thanksgiving break and finals, always make it hard to bring a fall syllabus to closure. There are days to fill, yet the continuity of the semester has been broken. My solution when teaching C18 lit is to use these final class session for exploring a text that looks towards what comes after, something that clearly builds on the Enlightenment-era roots of the period we've been studying but that also gestures towards the Romantic-era literature that will change the literary game in some important ways. Here are some of the books I considered for this slot but ultimately rejected:
In The Natural Daughter by Mary Robinson, the Gothic novel meets a beleaguered feminist heroine and a marriage-plot-run-amok amidst the French revolution. Our heroine has nothing to learn from the patriarchy but how it can let her down. Passions and drama run high in this tale, which shows its C18 roots but often gets classified with Romantic-era literature (in no small part because of the poems that sprinkled throughout the narrative). Robinson was a well-known poet as much as a novelist, and even more famous for being first a stage actress then the mistress of the Prince of Wales.
There are many more novels I could have chosen from! But these are some of the likely contenders if we weren't reading Vathek, which has its own riches to offer.