By Margaret Oliphant
(Oxford World Classics)
Catherine Vernon was 65 years old and a wealthy spinster. This did not mean that Catherine had never been in love. On the contrary, she had been engaged in her young adulthood, to her cousin, John Vernon. Sadly, John, who was the head of the family bank, had fallen in love with another woman, and to everyone's surprise, had jilted Catherine. The betrayal had broken her trusting heart.
To make matters worse, John had suddenly run away after embezzling money from the bank, almost ruining the great institution. Catherine stepped in at the last moment-- putting every penny of her own fortune on the line. She became the beloved heroine of the community -- a person of great integrity.
As fate would have it, life comes full circle when John's daughter and widow come back into Catherine's life.
This is not only the story of Catherine, but also the story of young Hester (John's daughter), and the three men who are in love with her. It's the story of the lust for money, power, and control; the story of resentment and rebellion; of flirtation and love. It is a story of a fascinating relationship between two rival women--one in the blossom of youth and the other in the winter of her life.
Ms. Oliphant wrote over 100 novels in her lifetime -- "Hester" being one of the most popular. It is beautifully written with strong character development; a Victorian masterpiece. If you like reading Jane Austen or Wilkie Collins, you are sure to enjoy Margaret Oliphant's "Hester."