At the Circulating Library Title Information: High Church

Author and Title: Frederick William Robinson. High Church

First Edition: London: Hurst and Blackett, 1860. 2 volumes, post 8vo., 21s.

Summary: The large town of Tenchester receives a new clergyman John Stone assisted by his son Geoffrey. Both hold high church views which put them at odds with the low church views of their congregation who like a "plain, simple service." The decoration of the church during Easter shocks the town and leads to protests and near riots. The newly married Martin Chester and Ada Hartley return from their honeymoon amidst the turmoil. Ada falls under the spell of Geoffrey's sermons whereas Martin expresses discomfort with the needlessly antagonist actions of the Stones. His attempts to reason with Geoffrey on behalf of the town fail. Concerned about the possible violence, Martin forbids Ada from attending a service, but she defies him. This leads to a falling out between the couple. Geoffrey, in an attempt to reconcile the two, leads Ada into a confession in the vestry. Caught, Martin demands Ada give up going to the local church: when she refuses, they separate. Meantime, Martin's brother Frank proposes to his long-time love Margaret Cheyne but she refuses him and accepts Geoffrey's offer (as she has also fallen under his religious spell). She soon regrets her choice, so Ada attempts to gently break the match with Geoffrey while Margaret attempts to reconcile Martin and Ada. Martin, convinced by Margaret of Ada's remorse, sees Ada tête-á-tête with Geoffrey and misconstrues the subject. He confronts Geoffrey and the latter explains the truth and apologizes. Martin accepts it and they part. That night, Geoffrey is shot dead. Martin is arrested (witnesses saw him follow the dead man) and tried for murder. The shock ruins Ada's health. The trial reveals the mystery: the drunkard Sam Burles harbors a grudge against Geoffrey for evicting him from his house so he burns down the church and shoots the curate. Martin and Ada tearfully reconcile shortly before she dies. The novel ends with Frank marrying Margaret. (TJB)

References: BL; EC