Written at age 17, this amateurish first novel by Margaret Oliphant is about the Melville family, headed by unmarried eldest sister Christian Melville, who is the heart and conscience of the family. Although the novel has many flaws, and the evangelical plot is naive, there are early signs of Oliphant's gifts for character and situation.
Biographical and other notes
The brother bears a strong resemblance to Margaret Oliphant's own brother Willie, who was educated for the ministry, but failed due to alcoholism.
This novel was not published until several years after it was written, and is sometimes mistakenly attributed to Mrs Oliphant's brother William Wilson.
Fyi, a later novel The Melvilles (1852) is not about the same family.
British publishing information
First edition: David Bogue 1855 (1856 on title page)