Synopsis of A Father's Love and a Woman's Friendship
This novel by Henrietta Rouviere Mosse is primarily concerned with the widow Mrs Gertrude Granby and her four beautiful and modest daughters, Sophia, Julia, Caroline and Laura. Partly through the letters to her childhood friend, Lady Sarah Oxmanton, we learn that Gertrude was the sole heir of her father’s estate, Pemberton Hall, but was disinherited when she secretly married Captain Granby, who was well respected but poor in comparison to Gertrude. The letters tell of Mrs Granby’s hardship during the Napoleonic Wars, the eventual death of her husband, and her return with her family to Lancashire, her place of birth.
Sophia marries a French officer, M St. Clairville, and after their wedding they travel to France, accompanied by Caroline. En route they visit London, where Caroline meets Sir Charles Ramsey. There is an obvious attraction between them and when he discovers she is going to France he makes her promise that she will never marry a foreigner like her sister.
Meanwhile, we are introduced to Sarah Oxmanton and her eldest daughter, Gertrude, who is vain and affected. They are staying in France for Gertrude’s health, and when Sarah receives Mrs Granby’s letter she returns to London to see her, leaving her daughter in the care of the lively Duchess of Dreadnot, and her niece Miss Minikin, much to Miss Oxmanton’s disgust. Lady Oxmanton visits Mrs Granby in Lancashire and they have an emotional reunion. Gertrude allows Sarah to take one of her daughters to London and it is decided that Julia should go with her. At a party at Lady Oxmanton’s house, Julia is introduced to Lord Frederick Newbank, whom she at first finds dull but later becomes attracted to. She also meets the Oxmanton’s eldest son George, who herself and Laura had previously encountered on a trip to Dearnwater Abbey, where their mother and Sarah Oxmanton grew up. Newbank is jealous of Julia and George’s relationship, but he is unaware that it is purely platonic, as George is in love with Laura Granby.
Whilst staying in Montpellier, Caroline becomes acquainted with Lord Narramore, and Gertrude Oxmanton is tricked into running away with Count Lignitz, who steals all her possessions and leaves her stranded in Germany. However, by coincidence she bumps into George, and he looks after her as the stress of the events makes her very ill. After she recovers she becomes a different person. She becomes more humble and begs for her parents’ forgiveness. Her father comes to the hotel with his friend Count Beckendorff and forgives his daughter. Beckendorff is attracted to Gertrude’s humility and falls in love with her.
Sophia gives birth to a baby girl in France, whom she calls Gertrude, but owing to the unfortunate death of St. Clairville they decide to go back to England. Caroline bumps into Ramsey in Calais, and after an initial misunderstanding, Ramsey declares his love for Caroline and asks her to marry him. They all go back to the Oxmantons’ in London where they are reunited with Julia, who has agreed to marry Lord Newbank.
On their return to Lancashire, Caroline once again sees Narramore, and visits him at his house. She urges him to visit her and her family at Willow Cottage and when he comes to see them and is introduced to Gertrude it is revealed that he is actually her father. They are reunited and the novel ends with the marriages of Caroline to Lord Ramsey and Julia to Lord Newbank, and the restoration of Gertrude to her rightful place at Pemberton Hall with Sophia and Laura.