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Corvey 'Adopt an Author'

Anne Ker

The Corvey Project at
Sheffield Hallam University


Synopsis of Adeline St Julian: or the Midnight Hour a novel by Anne Ker

Volume One:

The novel is set in the French provinces in 1632. Alphonso de Semonville falls in love with a mysterious singer in the forest of St Amans, but he is betrothed to Elinor de Montmorenci. Whilst searching for the singer he loses his way in the forest and falls through the forest floor. He wakes up attended by Adeline and a lady, Madame Belmont.

Madame Belmont tells him that Adeline is not her daughter and is the only heir of the Count and Countess St Julian. Their first child, Victor, drowned suspiciously and later the Count went missing. The Countess dreamt that Delarfonne, a distant cousin, murdered her son and husband and will kill her and her baby, Adeline. Madame Belmont was instructed to take Adeline away and concealed her real identity. Soon after, the Countess died and Delarfonne illegitimately inherited through force.

Years later, Delarfonne fell in love with Adeline (not knowing who she really was) and attempted to abduct her. This induced Madame Belmont to find a secluded house in the forest of St Amans from where Adeline can secretly work as an embroiderer.

Alphonso leaves their house to find that his father has died. He visits Elinor who tells him that two years ago she secretly married Henry de Castelle, a clergyman. Henry was accused of possessing and using infernal powers to bewitch the nuns and was imprisoned by a rival, Dampiere, who was supported by Cardinal Richelieu.

Elinor and Adeline go missing and later Alphonso is abducted and taken to a Dominican monastery. He is tortured and told to take Holy Orders or be killed. He is told that he is confined by order of Delarfonne. He escapes his cell and finds Elinor and both escape. Elinor reports that she was confined by Dampiere and Cardinal Richelieu in a convent near the monastery. A nun told her, before she hanged herself, that the nuns pretended to be bewitched and that Henry was innocent.

Volume Two:

Alphonso thinks that Adeline has been imprisoned by Delarfonne in the castle St Clair. Elinor's father takes her to England so that she is safe from Dampiere and the Cardinal. Eustace, Alphonso's servant, served at the castle St Clair for seven years and often saw the ghost of a woman. One night he found a secret prison and freed the Count.

After receiving a letter from Adeline confirming their suspicions, Alphonso and Eustace go to the castle whilst Delarfonne is in Paris. They gain admittance, Eustace, aided by the ghost, rescues Adeline. Alphonso waits outside the castle by a secret door and is approached by two mysterious men. One of the men is the Count.

Adeline tells them how she was abducted. Delarfonne tried to bribe her with riches to be his mistress. She was told that he had removed his wife and children to Chateau Bellevue. Delarfonne is jealous of Alphonso and after discovering Adeline's real identity he imprisoned her. At midnight each night, the ghost appeared in her cell. De Courcy, Delarfonne's main servant, is ill and confesses that he was ordered to murder Victor and imprisoned the Count. Delarfonne murdered the Countess and has been haunted by her ghost ever since. Adeline was condemned to die the day after Eustace saved her.

The Count tells them that after he escaped he was forced upon a boat and became a slave in Tunisia. He escaped with a female slave, who later died, and after meeting his English Friend, Mr Harley (the other man outside the castle) he boarded a boat to the East Indies. After making a fortune, they both returned to France to gain justice.

Delarfonne and De Courcy are arrested. The trial is delayed until De Castelle is tried and executed on 18 August 1634, even after the nuns have confessed. De Courcy dies from illness and Delarfonne commits suicide in the Bastille.

The Count repossesses his estates and Delarfonne's family are told to leave. Adeline and Alphonso marry and live in the castle of St Clair. After Dampiere and Richelieu are dead, Elinor and her father return to France with her five year old son and live near their friends.


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