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When Mr. Roland Carstairs, a wealthy and eligible bachelor arrives in the country, he sets the town of Lesser Chipping and the surrounding villages on fire. Although Carstairís man of business, Mr. Bowes, thinks he should be looking for a wife to give him sensibility and stability, for a time, Carstairs is happy to be a flirtatious wanderer.
Meanwhile, the vicarís second eldest daughter, Honoria Spencer, is busy avoiding the intentions of the exceptionally boring Mr. Whitham. When Mr. Bowes suggests that she would make a perfect match for Carstairs, Honoria listens to his advice. Marriage to the rich Carstairs would definitely be more advantageous than working in the household of the dreadful Mrs. Fitzkirk.
To make such a match happen, Honoria and Mr. Bowes must work together to attract Mr. Carstairs attention; otherwise, he may fall into the clutches of Honoriaís scheming neighbor, Louisa Allenby. But at the end of the plotting, only fate can have the final say.
Unfortunately, Honoria starts with an offensive note. One of the earliest comments out of Honoriaís mouth deals with her intense dislike of orphans. She rephrases this idea and even elaborates throughout the novel. Such cruel thoughts hardly seem appropriate for a vicarís daughter, and on a personal level are bound to repel some adopted parents like myself who have adopted orphans.
In addition to that bitter flavor, Honoria was excessively wordy when there was no need. The reader is sure to not be impressed by knowing the fashionable status of each of Honoriaís dresses. Except for the occasional enthusiasm which flowed from the banter between Mr. Bowes and Honoria, the writing lacked energy, and the story dwindled along at a tedious pace.
Carstairs, although generous and kind, was quite ignorant, almost dimwitted in his actions. All that can be said for him is that he made an interesting contrast with the fascinating Mr. Bowes. Unfortunately, that distinction was not enough to motivate me to give this novel a higher rating.