Two narrators each tell their own story in segments, and eventually their stories will merge. First is Milly Langham, née Mortimer, who tells of her orphaned childhood and how she came to marry Lieutenant Harry Langham. The second narrator is Millicent Mortimer, who resides with her sister at their large estate in Cheshire. The sisters are looking for a long-lost cousin to be their heir. Meanwhile the elder of the sisters, Sarah, is disturbed after seeing a handsome young Italian gentleman who roams the neighbourhood searching for an unknown Countess Sermoneta.
Although this novel has its serious side, there is a great deal of lighthearted humour as each narrator observes people and events through her own lens. Also this is one of the few Oliphant novels which portray an uncomplicated happy marriage.
British publishing information
First edition: Hurst and Blackett 1861 (1862 on title page)