In late Victorian England, two fathers must choose between daughters and sons.
Man’s Estate, the third in the Croome saga, takes place in 1893 when the story splits between lives in the growing town of Croome and the quite different life in the nearby Manor. Squire Lawrence’s four children are headed by the tall, proud, good-looking Riordan – but does he deserve to take over the Beauchamp estate? Is he a villain or merely a cad and bounder?
His sister Maud is still unmarried, while his brother Clive, the budding poet, has invited the sparky Frances Vernon and her brother down from London. “If he invites that girl down here again,” thinks Riordan, “She’ll have to bring her parents. What a prospect: having to entertain the middle classes, marry into the middle classes.” Is Frances a suitable match for the unworldly Clive – and can she be more than a match for the raffish Riordan? And at a time of crisis, why does everyone ignore Maud?
In nearby Croome meanwhile Nathan Brook, works foreman on a nearby speculative housing development, has welcomed home his eldest son Mervyn. He has been away at sea, he says, for several years – but what is his true story? Can he supplant his younger sister Megan in Nathan’s eyes? When Nathan finds Mervyn a job at the Manor, can he keep it? Can he hold down any job?
In the space of less than three weeks both families, the Brooks and the Lawrences, find themselves confronted by different crises. Who among then will rise to the challenge? Who will fail?
Man’s Estate is both a stand-alone novel and the third in the Croome saga – praised by the Historical Novel Society as “vividly described, historically accurate ... well written and impeccably researched.”