Alice Vavasor, a young woman of twenty-four, is engaged to the wealthy and respectable and dependable, if unambitious and bland, John Grey. She had previously been engaged to her cousin George, but she broke it off after he went through a wildMoreAlice Vavasor, a young woman of twenty-four, is engaged to the wealthy and respectable and dependable, if unambitious and bland, John Grey. She had previously been engaged to her cousin George, but she broke it off after he went through a wild period. John, trusting in his love, makes only the slightest protest of Alices planned tour of Switzerland with her cousin Kate, Georges sister, even when he learns George is to go with them as male protector.
Influenced by the romance of Switzerland, Kates conniving to restore George to Alices favour, and her own misgivings with Johns shortcomings, Alice jilts her second fiancé.Alices noble but despised relations are shocked, but their protests only strengthen Alices resolve, and she eventually renews her engagement to George. Now we increasingly see a darker side to George, who seemed charismatic, ambitious and alluring, in contrast to John.
He starts asking for money from Alice to support his parliamentary ambitions. Ever attentive to Alices welfare, John secretly pays the money instead. George wins his first election, but loses his second and in despair and, after learning of Johns interference in his campaign and engagement, almost murders John before escaping to America.A second story involves the comic rivalry between the wealthy farmer Cheesacre and the pauper soldier Captain Bellfield for the affections (and substantial inheritance) of the widow Mrs. Greenow. Mrs. Greenow had married young to a very rich older man who had recently died.
Still in mourning, which for her involves a great deal of performance, she also enjoys basking in the attentions of her beaux and pitting them against each other. Finally she decides to marry the more attractive Captain Bellfield, knowing that she can keep him under control.The third story deals with the marriage of the extremely rich Plantagenet Palliser to the even wealthier heiress, Lady Glencora MCluskie. They are not very well suited.
He is a stiff-necked, hardworking politician in line to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, while she has a lively, fun-loving personality and a well-developed sense of humour. She is outspoken and often shocks Alice by her frankness. The martial situation is made more tense by Glencoras failure to fall pregnant. Previously, she had been engaged to Burgo Fitzgerald, an aristocratic wastrel, but the same noble relations that protested Alices jilt had successfully pressured Glencora to abandon Burgo to marry Plantagenet. But she is still passionately in love with Burgo, who plots to elope with Glencora.
To Alices dismay, Glencora argues that it would be for the best if she eloped with Burgo as then Plantagenet could divorce her and marry someone else who could give him children. She publicly dances with Burgo at a ball and nearly agrees to go with him, even at the risk of her fortune and reputation.Plantagenet sacrifices his political ambitions to save his marriage by taking Glencora on a European tour with Alice accompanying.
After some rancorous traveling, Glencora finds that she is pregnant, which solidifies her marriage and fulfills Plantagenets life, though it is clear that Glencora cannot love him. John Grey pursues Alice to Switzerland to renew his courtship and eventually wins her over again, despite her deep guilt over her jilt. They become engaged and Plantagenet persuades his new friend to run for Parliament, to Alices satisfaction.Back in England, Mrs.
Greenow marries Bellfield, Glencora gives birth to a son, and Alice finally marries John. However Alices happiness is alloyed by a sense of defeat but she accepts this as the price to pay for having tried to be better than other girls.Includes a biography of the Author