A country gentleman - 2 related story lines

Margaret Oliphant's novel A Country Gentleman and His Family is the story of a passion which destroys several lives. This novel was serialised in an American magazine Atlantic Monthly from January 1885 until the beginning of 1886. Surprisingly during this same time period, January 1885 to the end of the year, a sort of sequel, A House Divided Against Itself, was being serialised in a British magazine Chambers's Journal.

A House Divided, which takes place several years after the first novel, has many of the same characters, given slightly modified names. What is disconcerting is that often the characters' personalities seem to have undergone a sea change:  characters who were warm are now cold; characters who were guileless are now calculating; a character who was violent is now reserved; and so on. Perhaps Margaret Oliphant is indicating how the years can change people;  or perhaps she is consciously reinventing the characters (thus the changed names), allowing her to take the story lines in new directions.

Also A Country Gentleman's characters are so well drawn, and the story lines so interesting, that A House Divided suffers in comparison. It might fare better as a stand-alone novel, or at least not read immediately after A Country Gentleman.

A Country Gentleman and His Family
A House Divided Against Itself

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