A comedy of romance and manners set in Edwardian London, sharply observed by the woman Oscar Wilde considered his "Sphinx."
'His appearance is not against him either,' said Anne dryly; 'so what's the matter with him?'
'I don't know exactly. I think he's capable of playing with her.'
'Perhaps he doesn't really appreciate her,' suggested Anne.
'Oh, yes, he does. He's a connoisseur--confound him! He appreciates her all right. But it's all for himself--not for her. By the way, I've heard his name mentioned with another woman's name. But I happen to know there's nothing in it.'
'Would you really like her to marry soon?' Anne asked.
'In her position it would be better, I suppose,' said her guardian, with obvious distaste to the idea.
'Has there ever been anyone that you thoroughly approved of?' asked Anne.
He shook his head.
'I rather doubt if there ever will be,' Anne said.
'She's so clever, so impulsive! She lives so much on her emotions. If she were disappointed--in that way--it would mean so much to her,' Sir Charles said.
'She does change rather often,' said Anne.
'Of course, she's nev
This surprisingly modern-feeling comedy of manners contrasts the dull life of Edith Otley, a young matron with a tiresomely narcissistic and fatuous husband and somewhat straitened means, with the more exciting one of her friend Hyacinth Verney, a substantial heiress, single, beautiful, charming and independent.
The story mainly concerns the courtship of Hyacinth and Cecil Reeve. She's in love with him, but he loves another woman, Eugenia Raymond, a widow 10 years his senior. The widow refuses him, so he falls back on Hyacinth on the rebound. However, her awareness of his devotion to Mrs. Raymond impinges on their relationship.
The writing is excellent. Those who think the language of Jane Austen and Fanny Burney somewhat stilted and old-fashioned should find this more to their liking. The ending seems rather abrupt and unsatisfying, however.