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The Hand of Ethelberta

by Thomas Hardy

At the beginning of the book, we are told that Ethelberta was raised in humble circumstances but, through her work as a governess, married well at the age of eighteen. Her husband died two weeks after the wedding and, now twenty-one, Ethelberta lives with her mother-in-law, Lady Petherwin. In the three years that have elapsed since the deaths of both her husband and father-in-law, Ethelberta has been treated to foreign travel and further privilege by her benefactress, but restricted from seeing her poor family. The events of the story concern Ethelberta's career as a famous poetess and storyteller as she struggles to support her family and conceal her secret -- that her father is a butler. Beautiful, clever, and rational, she easily attracts four very persistent suitors (Mr Julian, Mr Neigh, Mr Ladywell, and Lord Mountclere), but is reluctant to give her much-coveted hand.

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Angela Roquet loves everything macabre - with a dash of comedy. She is also fascinated by world religions, the afterlife and mythology. This clearly shows in her work, where mythological characters tend to make an appearance, showing off their more mundane sides. Today, Roquet talks to us about what inspired her book, Graveyard Shift, why she has a female reaper in the leading role and how she used to raise eyebrows in public with the types of books she was reading.
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