The Glass Virgin
Young Annabella Lagrange, the only child of wealthy parents, lives a secluded life of privilege on a north England estate shielded from life’s harsher realities of strikes, starvation and the shady doings of the “lower classes.” Annabella’s mother nurtures her daughter’s desire to marry her cousin Stephen so that her daughter will not know the pain of a wicked spouse. Unwittingly, Annabella discovers her father’s libertine ways after creeping unseen into his quarters and catching him bathing a perfumed young woman who was definitely not her “mama.” She faints and calls it a bad dream. Years later her father punishes her for refusing to be married off to his largest local debtor by blurting out her real heritage—his mistress is her real mother! Then she learns that Stephen is engaged to another and, unable to bear her now-tainted life, she runs away to make a new life in London. Quickly, she discovers that her education and social upbringing are as much a liability with the working classes as her illegitimate heritage in Upper Society. Refusing to surrender to either stratum, Annabella endures suffering and degradation but stirs up her passion to fight back against class prejudice and social hypocrisy in her search for happiness. In this tense story of nineteenth-century English life, Cookson writes a suspenseful novel of conviction and, ultimately, triumph.