Annabella Lagrange had the kind of childhood that most can only dream about. The only child of an aristocratic couple, raised on their magnificent estate in the English countryside, she was loved by her parents and coddled by servants who acquiesced to her every whim. She was allowed to do anything she wanted, except, of course, to stray too far from her wing of the house. But her seclusion didn't concern her too much, because when she grew up, she planned to marry her handsome cousin Stephen and live happily ever after.
However, on the morning of her tenth birthday, Annabella ventured farther than she'd ever gone before. Overcome with curiosity, she opened a forbidden door that led into her father's private quarters, and what she found there showed her with shocking clarity that her father was not the man she thought he was. And though she couldn't know it at the time, the events of that day set in motion the uncovering of a secret that had been kept for many years.
So begins the remarkable story of Annabella Lagrange, a sensitive, beautiful young woman who was raised as a lady. But when she turns eighteen, she learns the surprising circumstances of her birth, and her entire world quietly crashes around her. Suddenly she's forced from the genteel surroundings of her youth into the rough, lower-class society of Victorian England, where only her quick wit and determination can save her from starvation.
Catherine Cookson was one of the world's most beloved writers, and in The Glass Virgin her powers are at their height. Rarely has a heroine been portrayed more sensitively or a situation more compellingly. Filled with passion and drama, The Glass Virgin is a rare treat for lovers of romantic fiction.
What differentiates a true lady from a common woman? Is it blood, environment, education or simply hauteur? The late, prolific Cookson deftly explores these questions in this dizzying upstairs-downstairs "romance of adversity" set in rural Edwardian England. Annabella Lagrange is a lovely 17-year-old lady-to-be... or not to be, whose aristocratic childhood comes to a crashing halt when her womanizing papa, who has just bankrupted his wife Rosina's glass factory, reveals that Annabella is actually the daughter of a local whorehouse madam. Manuel Mendoza, a predictably dark and handsome self-made workman, helps Annabella begin a new, humble life as a farmhouse maid with an invented past. Cookson liberally heaps mental anguish and cruel twists of fate upon her heroine as Annabella tentatively navigates "life as lived by the majority of people." Over the course of a trying year, Annabella keeps her ladylike dignity and virginity as she entangles herself in the bonds of love. Is it truly possible for "the upper class to come down and the working class to come up and meet in the middle" in the realms of love and business? Despite some heavy-handed foreshadowing and spell-breaking asides about the social limitations of the Edwardian era, Cookson proves herself a seasoned storyteller, whose plentiful list of titles keeps historical women's fiction fans in the hardcover aisle years after the author's death.
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The glass Virgin
Beautifully written with characters so real that you feel you've inhabited their lives. Although set in the mid 19th century the themes are still real and transferable to our times.