Gertrude Morley runs away from honest parents with the handsome and worthless rake, Augustus Donnelly. The young couple marry and remain in Scotland a short time, but sufficiently long to exhaust their finances. They have no means of extricating themselves from their increasing embarrassments, when Lord Southend, one of Mr. Donnelly's old college friends, arrives just in time to furnish them with money. Better still, he offers them seats in his barouche. Mr. Donnelly "drops" his wife at his mother's house, and proceeds with Lord Southend to London to look after his promised government appointment…
Geraldine Endsor Jewsbury (1812 – 1880) was born in Measham, then in Derbyshire, now in Leicestershire. She was the daughter of Thomas Jewsbury, a cotton manufacturer and merchant, and his wife Maria. The family moved to Manchester in 1818, after her father's business failed. After her mother died in 1819, she was brought up by her sister Maria Jane Jewsbury. In 1841 Geraldine Jewsbury met the Carlyles. Thomas Carlyle pronounced her "one of the most interesting young women I have seen for years, delicate sense & courage looking out of her small sylph-like figure." Jewsbury has earned a place in literature in three respects: as a novelist, as a critic and publisher's reader, and as a figure in London literary life. Jewsbury was primarily a novelist of ideas and moral dilemmas.
Examiner, 1856 — A remarkably good novel, well written, amusing, sensible, and firm to its purpose is Miss Jewsbury's Sorrows of Gentility. The story is constructed with much care and the characters developed in the course of it are varied and natural.
The Athenaeum, May 1856 — Is a tale, extremely simple in idea and perfectly natural in execution, Miss Jewsbury contrived to exhibit a choice moral, with her accustomed grace and power.
The Saturday Review, June 1856 — In this novel, Miss Jewsbury has successfully attacked the system of social pretenses. That the "sorrows of gentility" are self-inflicted, and cannot command a particle of sympathy, we need no fiction, however, to point out. Miss Jewsbury has given us a story full of the follies of a family who, wishing to be fashionable, contrive to be very ridiculous.
The Spectator, 1856 — An important lesson is aimed at in Miss Jewsbury's fiction of The Sorrows of Gentility. To point the moral of consequences is the object of the writer—that any act, or any habit, great or small, carries consequences with it which cannot be removed by effort, or remedied by repentance, but must be received as a burden and borne. This idea is worked out with skill and felicity.