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"A novel 'with a double plot interest. The heroine, Dorothea Brooke, longs to devote herself to some great cause and, for a time, expects to find it in her marriage to Rev. Mr. Casaubon, an aging scholar. Mr. Casaubon lives only eighteen months after their marriage, a sufficient period to disillusion her completely. He leaves her his estate, with the ill-intentioned proviso that she will forfeit if she marries his young cousin Will Ladislaw, whom...
London, 1858. Noteworthy for its broiling summer months and the related stench of the sewage-filled Thames River, the year is otherwise little remembered. Ashton reveals that thanks to significant, if unrecognized, turning points the months from May to August turned out to be a summer of consequence. She mines Victorian letters and gossip, diaries, court records, newspapers, and other contemporary sources to uncover historically crucial moments in...