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A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Title: Dr. Edith Romney

Author and Title: Anne Elliot. Dr. Edith Romney: A Novel

First Edition: London: Bentley, 1883. 3 volumes, post 8vo, 31s 6d.

Summary: Edith Romney, the daughter of a doctor, fulfills her ambition to study medicine and she settles in the town of Wanningster with her niece Winifred Noel. Her practice initially thrives at the expense of the older Dr. Fullagher, a misanthrope, because the townspeople take to the novelty of a woman doctor. In revenge, he invites a younger doctor, Austin Fane, to take over his practice. Fane accepts and makes clear his contempt for women doctors though his words and refusal to consult with her. The townspeople, save Miss Jacques (the retired teacher) and Mrs. Stanforth (the clergyman's wife), shift their loyalties to the handsome new doctor. Fane's sister Sibyl comes to visit and she renews an acquaintance with Oscar Ardley, drawing the man's attentions away from Winifred. Sibyl, a flirt, has no intention of anything lasting with Oscar. Fane, meantime, drifts into an engagement with Violet Lorimer, a wealthy young woman. Her practice drying up, Edith suffers mentally and financially. Through happenstance, months pass before Fane first sees his medical rival and he is instantly struck by her beauty though worn by care. He immediately repents of his harsh words and he contrives to meet her by calling her in to assist during a factory accident. During a music concert, some workmen, instigated by the drunkard Nicholson, hiss at Edith. Fane takes Nicholson outside and knocks him down, thereby earning the man's enmity. The doctor's explanation to Edith of the event leads to Edith's breakdown and brain fever. Fullagher attends Edith back to health, now aware of Fane's regard for Edith. Edith, for her part, hears of Fane's attention, suspects his love, and begins to feel love for him. After her recovery, Fane confesses his love to Edith, who rejects him due to his previous engagement. The impasse is resolved when Nicholson, intending mischief, tells Violet about Fane's attentions to Edith. She sacrifices her own happiness and breaks off the engagement allowing Fane to propose to Edith. Sibyl throws over Oscar for another and the chastened Oscar successfully begs Winifred's forgiveness and hand in marriage. (TJB)

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References: Bodleian; BL; EC