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The Story

Old Mr Trevanion, the squire of Highcourt, is a combative man who enjoys tyrannizing over his wife Grace. Ill with heart disease, as his health deteriorates his behaviour does too; and even in front of others he makes vague threats of exposing some shameful secret from Grace's past. Grace has four children by Mr Trevanion, and an older stepdaughter Rosalind with whom she is very close.

Soon people become aware that Grace is leaving the house each evening for a short period, seemingly to meet a man. Her abusive husband jumps to the worst conclusion and sends for his lawyer.

This novel tells the story of Grace, Rosalind, and several other characters.

Biographical and other notes

Regarding Grace's mysterious past, see the entry below on "2 Related Story Lines".

Margaret Oliphant sometimes wove a real event into her otherwise fictional story. In this case the story of Grace going to Liverpool and doing what was necessary to save another character is based on herself:  in 1868 she went to Liverpool on behalf of her brother Frank, who had embezzled money from his employer the Bank of England; and she negotiated with the Bank to drop all charges in exchange for full repayment - at great cost to herself. Her Autobiography tells only part of the story, omitting the embezzlement and other details;  but many years after her death her relation Georgina Sime revealed more of what happened in her book of reminiscences Brave Spirits (1952).

British publishing information

Periodical:   Longman's Magazine   Jan 1884 - Jan 1885

First edition:   Longmans Green & Co 1884 (1885 on title page)

Series and Themes

A mysterious past - 2 related story lines
Inheritance, wills, or legitimacy issues
Married life
Theft, forgery, embezzlement
Women's issues / women's rights

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