We are leaping into our 2018 Book Club with a Virago Modern Classic ripe for rediscovery and championed by the brilliant Val McDermid: Marriage by Susan Ferrier.
Following two generations of women, Marriage, is a shrewdly observed, humorous novel by one of Scotland’s greatest writers.
‘What have you to do with a heart? What has anybody to do with a heart when their establishment in life is at stake? Keep your heart for your romances, child, and don’t bring such nonsense into real life – heart, indeed!‘
Understanding that the purpose of marriage is to further the prospects of her family, Lady Juliana nevertheless rejects the ageing and unattractive – though appropriately wealthy – suitor of her father’s choice. She elopes with a handsome, penniless soldier, fleeing to Scotland to live at Glenfarn Castle, his paternal home. But, finding life in the Scottish highlands bleak compared to London, Lady Juliana hastily repents of following her heart.
After giving birth to twin daughters, Lady Juliana leaves Mary to the care of her sister-in-law while she returns to England with Adelaide. Sixteen years pass and Mary, under the wise care of her aunt, has developed into an educated, thoughtful young woman; Adelaide, however, has taken after their mother – she is vain and rash. The girls are now of marriageable age and Lady Juliana sends for Mary, who must leave her beloved Highland home for the glitter of London.
Ferrier sold more copies of her novels than her contemporary, Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott declared her his equal and 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of its publication, we can’t think of a better time to (re)discover her brilliance. Grab a copy of this extraordinary novel in any good bookstore or online at Waterstones, The Hive and Amazon.