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Written in 1834, the last and most psychologically powerful vel by Jane Austen's leading rival. Newly orphaned Helen Stanley is urged to share the home of her childhood friend Lady Cecilia. This charming socialite, however, is withholding secrets and soon Helen is drawn into a web of 'white lies' and evasions that threaten t only her hopes for marriage but her very place in society. A fascinating parama of Britain's political and intellectual elite in the early 1800s and a gripping romantic drama. Helen was the inspiration for Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters.
Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) was the second child of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, a political liberal and enlightened educator. Her four regional novels and novels of manners, from Castle Rackrent (1800) to Helen (1834), commanded unprecedented advances and were major best-sellers. She was read and admired by Jane Austen, Walter Scott, Byron, Stendhal, Turgenev and Ruskin - who declared her novels the most re-readable books in existence . John Mullan is a Professor of English at UCL. He hosts the Guardian Book Club, and contributes regularly to Newsnight Review, LRB and New Statesman.