Synopsis of Marriage by Susan Edmonstone Ferrier by Lucy Burnett
Lady Juliana, the beautiful daughter of the Earl of Courtland, receives a marriage proposal from a wealthy Duke but instead, much to the horror and disappointment of her father, elopes to Gretna Green to marry her lover, the Scottish soldier Henry Douglas. The Earl of Courtland disowns his daughter and arranges for Douglas’s dismissal, leaving the newly weds with no choice but to journey to Glenfern in Scotland and reside with the Douglas family. Juliana is shocked by the difference in lifestyles. Despite all kind-hearted attempts from Henry’s fussing spinster aunts, Miss Grizzy, Miss Jackie and Miss Nicky, Lady Juliana makes no attempt to accept her new life in Scotland.
Juliana gives birth to twin girls, Adelaide and Mary. She is especially disappointed with the latter whom she considers to be weak and extremely troublesome. Lady Juliana therefore allows her sister-in-law, Mrs. Douglas, to foster Mary. Henry contacts General Cameron who agrees to give him a second chance in the army and so the couple return to London where Juliana gives birth to a son, Edward. Henry, unable to repay debts which have accumulated from Juliana’s frivolous spending, retreats to India. Lady Juliana returns to Beech Park, now run by her brother, Lord Courtland, since the death of their father.
Sixteen years pass during which time Mary has been brought up to be a well-mannered, caring young woman. Mrs. Douglas gives birth to a son who dies. Subsequently, the Laird of Glenfern dies suddenly at the child’s funeral. Due to the shock of witnessing the death of her grandfather, Mary’s health begins to suffer and it is decided that she should to live with her mother until her health improves. Mr. Douglas journeys with her as far as Edinburgh, stopping in a number of Scottish regions on the way.
Mary does not receive a warm welcome from her mother and sister but she soon becomes close friends with her cousin Emily. She also befriends Mrs. Lennox, a blind, elderly lady who, much to Mary’s embarrassment, aims to see Mary and her son Charles married. Mary never experiences any lavish social event such as a ball but visits a number of people whose follies Emily delights in highlighting. Such characters include the malicious Mrs Downe Wright, mother of Mr. Downe Wright, heir to a large fortune. Mr Downe Wright openly expresses his intentions to marry Mary but she refuses as she does not love him. In contrast Adelaide, with the encouragement of Lady Juliana, marries the Duke of Argyll, but soon lives to regret it and elopes to Europe with her impassioned lover, Lord Lindore.
Mrs Lennox’s health begins to fail and at her death bed Mary realises that she is in love with Colonel Lennox. The feelings are reciprocated. Lady Juliana refuses to allow her daughter to marry a man of such insignificance but after accepting a request from Adelaide for her to come and stay with her on the Continent, Mary is left free to marry whoever she chooses. However, it seems that due to an ongoing family feud between the Maclaughlans (close friends of the Douglas's) and the Lennox's concerning the Maclaughlan Estate, the marriage will still not take place. The marriage eventually does go ahead once Mary receives Lady MacLaughlan`s blessing. On the same day as the wedding Sir Sampson Maclaughlan dies leaving Colonel Lennox heir to the Maclaughlan estate and permitting Mrs. Mary Lennox to permanently reside in her home country of Scotland.
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