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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Title: Hoist with her Own Petard

Author and Title: Reginald Lucas. Hoist with her Own Petard

First Edition: London: Hurst and Blackett, 1894. 3 volumes, cr. 8vo., 31s. 6d.

Summary: On his twenty-first birthday, Jack Balstoun proposes to a young widow Mrs. Constance Desant, whose husband deserted her on her wedding day, fled to Australia, and a short time later was reported dead. Later that day, Jack's father Sir John Balstoun, ignorant of his son's proposal, also proposes to Mrs. Desant. Convinced that Sir John refers to his son's marriage offer and not one of his own, Mrs. Desant inadvertently appears to accept the father's proposal. An awkward scene follows in which Mrs. Desant reaffirms her prior acceptance of Jack. The embarrassed Sir John, out of pique, refuses to condone his son's marriage. The household also contains Miss Mirabel, a one-time singer and the former governess to Sir John's daughter Agatha. While the impasse between father and son remains unresolved, Miss Mirabel, who herself has designs on her employer, identifies Mrs. Desant's deceased husband with a man she knew recently in Australia. Mrs. Desant leaves to find her husband in Australia. Jack, as a grand gesture, moves to a remote Scottish island to live out his days as a recluse. After months on his island, Jack's aunt cajoles him into returning to society. In London, Jack becomes the target of the "fast" Edith Palliser, a society lady who gambles, smokes, and associates with a like-minded set. Taken with her charms and ignoring the admonishments of his aunt, he proposes to her. Meanwhile, Sir John left alone with Miss Mirabel proposes to the former governess. Unable to find her husband in Australia, Mrs. Desant returns to England. The discovery of the dying Herbert Dasent reveals all: he and Miss Mirabel had married and separated years ago, and he deserted Mrs. Dasant due to a threatening note sent to him by his first wife. The marriage of Jack and Constance follows, but only after Miss Palliser elopes with another man more congenial to her personality. A subplot involves Agatha's choice between the boring but rich Lord Morecombe and her lively but poor cousin Freddy. After refusing the former, she marries the latter. (TJB)

Title Tags:

References: BL; EC


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