Synopses & Reviews
Clara Amedroz is the only surviving child of the elderly squire of Belton Castle in Somersetshire. At twenty-five, she is old for an unmarried woman. Her father's income and savings have been dissipated to pay for the extravagances of her brother, who subsequently committed suicide. Since her father has no living sons, his estate, which is entailed, will pass upon his death to a distant cousin, Will Belton.Despite her poor prospects, she has two eligible suitors. Within four days of making her acquaintance, Will Belton proposes marriage to her. Belton is warm-hearted, kind, and generous, and these qualities make a strong impression on Clara. However, she believes herself in love with Captain Frederic Aylmer, although he has given no clear signs of feeling that way toward her. Aylmer is impeccable in his manners, smooth, urbane, well-read, and a member of Parliament; compared to him, Belton is awkward and unpolished.Clara rejects Belton's offer, urging him to regard her as a sister. Not long thereafter, Aylmer proposes to her, and she eagerly accepts. However, her happiness is short-lived. Her new fianc proves shallow and cold, more concerned with his own comfort than with her happiness. Moreover, he expects her to subject herself to his domineering mother.Mr. Amedroz dies; and although Belton offers to allow Clara to remain at Belton Castle, she goes to live with the Aylmer family in Yorkshire. Lady Aylmer, who wants her son to marry money or a title, exerts herself to make Clara miserable there; and Captain Aylmer offers no support to his betrothed.