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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Title: The Home of Faith

Author and Title: Helen Dickens. The Home of Faith: A Novel

First Edition: London: C. J. Skeet, 1880. 3 volumes, post 8vo., 31s 6d.

Summary: The novel is set near Mosston, the "largest northern seaport town." Herbert Yelverton, a wealthy merchant, lives at his country estate "The Moat" with his wife and seven children. The eldest Dudley resides in India; Julia and Meggie live at home; and the debt-prone Bob works in his father's office. A daily governess Faith Lurgan looks after the three younger children: Gertrude, Bernard, and Cecil. As the narrator describes, Faith "was moderate in all things—expectations, appearance, temper, appetite—all save patience. Of that, Miss Lurgan had an immoderate supply." In youth, she and Dudley "loved innocently and sweetly" but his father demanded he marry a Jamaican heiress. When Dudley refuses, Yelverton disowned his son, and Dudley goes to India to seek a fortune. At a ball, Meggie meets Col. Burke Dundas: though he is a poor officer, he is heir to a title. The two fall in love. Yelverton refuses to let his daughter marry the poor Dundas; instead he wants Meggie to marry Mr. Kenney, an uncouth merchant. Dundas inexplicable breaks his engagement with Meggie‐later it is revealed that Yelverton told Dundas that Meggie accepted Kenney's proposal (though she never does). Soon after, Meggie learns of Dundas engagement with the beautiful and rich Ida Grant, the daughter of an English Jew (with hints he is a money-lender). Faith accompanies Meggie to London to see the wedding, an event that nearly drives Meggie to suicide. Six years pass. Yelverton goes bankrupt and dies of a stroke, leaving his family nearly penniless. Meggie takes a job as governesses for Lady Castleton, a fat, demented alcoholic, looked after by Miss Blacklock. Meggie suddenly meets Lord Castleton one day and discovers her employer is Dundas. He confesses to Meggie he married for money thinking she had accepted Kenney. His wife, once beautiful, has degenerated (with hints at a crude anti-semeticism cause). Meggie agrees to stay, for the child's sake. After a time, Lady Castleton succumbs to her addiction, Meggie marries Dundas, and Faith comes to Felton to be the governess. One night, a disheveled Ida Grant breaks into the house. Dundas reveals he locked his wife away in order to marry Meggie. The distraught Meggie leaves her husband to his first wife. The novel ends with the return of Dudley from India: on route, the ship catches fire and Dudley dies saving a blind boy. Faith and Meggie both remain tragically alone. (TJB)

References: BL; EC


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