15-year-old Mary Peveril and her widowed clergyman father seem to be everything to each other - until he rather suddenly decides to marry a young woman in her twenties. Mary is all at once pushed into the shade, and jealously watches the other Mary take her place in her father's heart. Even Mary's first experience in love is complicated by the nearness of the other Mary.
As originally serialised in four parts, the first two parts deal with the relationship between young Mary and her stepmother Mary, and can stand as a story on their own. (See publishing notes below.) The last two parts are a sequel to the original story, focusing on the new life which the now-widowed stepmother Mary builds for herself.
Biographical and other notes
This short novel has an unusual publishing history. It was serialised in MacMillan's Magazine, the parts subtitled as follows:
Sep 1872 - My Own Story (narrated by young Mary, chapters 1-5, plus chapter 6 in November)
Nov 1872 - Her Story (narrated by the elder Mary in chapter 7, and followed by young Mary's concluding narrative)
Dec 1872 - Grove House (first half of sequel - the subsequent story of the elder Mary, told in the third person)
Jan 1873 - Grove House (conclusion to the elder Mary's story)
The links on this page include all four parts. Also effective 2016 all four parts have been reprinted in a facsimile edition by Gyan Books, New Delhi, India. This can be found at Bookfinder.com under the title The Two Marys (complete) 1872.
As mentioned earlier the first two parts can stand as a story on their own and indeed were published as such over 20 years later: in 1896 the two-part version of The Two Marys was published in book form under that title, sharing the volume with an unrelated Oliphant novella
Grove Road, Hampstead. In 1906 The Two Marys was published alone by Methuen in a cheap edition, still using only the first two parts.
British publishing information
Periodical: Macmillan's Magazine Sep, Nov, Dec 1872 - Jan 1873
First edition: Methuen & Co (also contains Grove Road Hampstead) 1896