By Ferdâ Asya (eds.)
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The central plot of the novel highlights the adventures, including the trial for murder of one of their husbands, of these two women as they reconcile to their new identities and stations in life. The intrigues of Laura and Rose, and their husbands, explore themes of trust, loyalty, and self-sacrifice in romantic love. Laura exhibits great physical and emotional bravery as she devotes all her energies to her husband, Ferdinand Cassinove, after he is wrongfully convicted of murder. Moreover, the Duke of Beresleigh, Rose’s husband, is constrained to trust his wife when manly pride would seem to dictate that he denounce her.
Serialized in the London Journal on the first page with an accompanying illustration from December 24, 1859 to April 14, 1860, The Fatal Marriage or The Doom of Deville seems at first glance to be a representative sensational novel of the 1850s. The plot contains crossdressing girls, switched at birth babies, a faked death, a suicide inside a courtroom, and the bloody revenge of a scorned woman. In brief, on his return home from battle, Orville Deville falls in love with and marries Lionne Delaforet.
Tetherly clearly rejects Paul Fane’s belief in natural aristocracy, which he recognizes as an unfounded ideology dividing people against each other in relationships of domination. It comes as a surprise when the reader finds out late in the narrative that Tetherly has married the very rich Winifred Ashly, a member of old British aristocracy. The characters in Paul Fane fight their social struggles on the basis of different notions of legitimate power and authority, all of which are ambivalent or outright contradictory.
American Writers in Europe: 1850 to the Present by Ferdâ Asya (eds.)