Plot Synopsis of The Enchantress or Where Shall I Find Her by Mrs Martin
The Enchantress or Where Shall I Find Her is a tale, in one volume, about a gentleman’s search for domestic happiness. The tale begins with the hero, Sir Phillip Desormeaux (a Baronet) advertising for a wife in a London newspaper. Being a man of wealth and high status, he receives numerous replies, of which only two he finds worthy of further consideration. He continues correspondence with these two women, one of who goes by the name of M.M. The other corresponds totally anonymously via the newspaper, but Phillip refers to her as his Incognita. Phillip discusses these women with his closest friend, Colonel Harry Monford, who is also a bachelor.
Within the preliminary chapters, Sir Phillip makes new acquaintances with the Macfarlane family at the Playhouse. Jessy Macfarlane is the daughter of Mr Macfarlane and the stepdaughter of Mrs Macfarlane. Phillip continues socialising with this family and becomes attracted to Jessy.
Meanwhile M.M withdraws correspondence from Sir Phillip, explaining that she has ‘entered on a path I dare not follow’ (Martin 1801:42). It is eventually revealed that Jessy is in fact M.M, but only replied in order to escape from her stepmother’s plans of an arranged marriage with an obnoxious and presuming gentleman, Mr Bosville. Jessy is actually in love with a gentleman who, for unknown reasons, had to move to Scotland.
Phillip realises that although he finds Jessy endearing, he is not in love with her. They continue their friendship as Phillip thinks she is in need of a companion and friend. However, when out on a walk one day Phillip notices a veiled lady whose ‘melodious voice’ enchants him.
Phillip visits friends in Cheltenham, Mr and Mrs Templar, who happen to be the cousins of the veiled lady Phillip was attracted to in London. Coincidently, she is visiting Cheltenham at the same time as Phillip. She is an intelligent and strong-minded woman called Miss Josephea Milward, with whom Phillip falls deeply in love. It is soon revealed that she is his Incognita and also has feelings for Phillip.
Meanwhile, Phillip discovers that his friend, Colonel Monford, is Jessy’s long lost love. The reason why he staged a sudden move to Scotland was because he thought Jessy wanted to marry Mr Bosville. He was convinced his love was unrequited, therefore never told Phillip about her. However, Phillip arranges a meeting between his two friends, in an attempt to reunite them. This is eventually achieved, as is a match between Phillip and Josephea.
This tale ends with the marriage of Phillip and Josephea and Colonel Montford and Jessy. The two wives are introduced and ‘ vowed to each other a friendship as lasting as that which already subsisted between their husbands’ (Martin 1801:333).