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A novel of Regency England that centers upon a self-assured young lady who is determined to arrange her life and the lives of those around her into a pattern dictated by her romantic fancy.
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The Morel family, who live on the Nottinghamshire coalfields, are beset with conflict. Gertrude has become disillusioned with her inarticulate working-class husband and devotes her energies to her sons. Son Paul falls in love and seeks to escape his family ties.