Susan Ferrier sold more copies of her novels than her contemporary, Jane Austen. Sir Walter Scott declared her his equal. Why, then has she been lost to history? On the 200th anniversary of this sharply observed, comic novel, it is time to rediscover her brilliance. ‘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 her family, Lady Juliana nevertheless rejects the ageing and unattractive – though appropriately wealthy – suitor of her father’s choice. She elopes, instead, with a handsome, penniless soldier and goes to Scotland to live at Glenfarn Castle, his paternal home. But Lady Juliana finds life in the Scottish highlands dreary and bleak, hastily repenting 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 later, Mary is thoughtful, wise and kind, in comparison to her foolish mother and vain sister.
Following two generations of women, Marriage, first published in 1818, is a shrewdly observant and humorous novel by one of Scotland’s greatest writers.