Heartwood 2:2 - Kelroy
At the center of Kelroy are the Hammonds – a newly widowed mother and her daughters Emily and Lucy who, upon the death of Mr. Hammond, suddenly find their high-living lifestyle in jeopardy. The calculating widow feels she is too old to stand a chance in the marriage market herself, so she hides from her daughters their financial problems (while proceeding ever further into debt) in order to keep up appearances in the hope that her daughters will attract wealthy suitors. Meanwhile, Emily has fallen in love with Edward Kelroy, who has also recently lost his father, but Mrs. Hammond forbids their marriage because of Kelroy's financial difficulties stemming from his late father's failed real-estate investments. Driven by a materialistic culture and personal greed, Mrs. Hammond becomes a truly reprehensible monster who will do anything to preserve her standing within her social circle. This book is filled with varied, complex characters and contorted, deceitful social situations that should be of interest to fans of Austen and other Regency novelists.
To avoid spoilers, readers might want to first read the novel, and only then return to Dana Nelson's Introduction and Cathy Davidson's Foreword which provide informative insights and historical context about the early years of our republic and our supposedly classless society.
Very little is known about the life of Rebecca Rush. For other novels by early American women writers, you might try The Coquette by Hannah W. Foster (1797) and Charlotte Temple by Susanna Rowson (1794).
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