This is an historical romance but written in a very different style and subject matter.
It does however, reemphasise the issue with marriage and property ownership of the Victorian ages and before. It wasn’t until The Married Women’s Property Act 1870 that women were allowed to keep their earnings rather than hand them over to their husband or father. But this was not enough, so in 1882 The Married Women’s Property Act was passed and now:
- A wife could hold her own wages and investments independent from her husband.
- A wife could inherit up to £200.00 in her own right and keep the money.
- A wife could keep property inherited from her next of kin as long as it was not a Trust asset.
- A wife could inherit and hold rented property.
- Both the husband and wife could be made liable to support their children.
In 1893 an Act was passed that entitled married women the same rights to their property as unmarried – and by the way, this Act also applied to formally engaged couples. There were further Acts of Parliament in 1964 and 1970 to revise the earlier Acts and make them uptodate.
In the Novel, we have a widow who by virtue of the death of her husband and the presents he had gifted her before, had become the majority shareholder in a Mining Corporation and thus Chairman. As you can imagine, this did not sit well with many of the other men on the Board who held shares as they did want to be governed by a woman. They did not believe that women knew enough about business and that their place was in the home having babies. So a power struggle ensued. This was the time when Cornish mining reached its height, before foreign competition depressed the price of copper, and later tin, to a level that made the extraction of Cornish ore unprofitable. The areas of Cornwall around Gwennap and St Day and on the coast around Porthtowan were among the richest mining areas in the world. And copper had been mined and tin traded, in Cornwall since around 2000BC. At its height the Cornish tin mining industry had around 600 steam engines working to pump out the mines (many mines reached under the sea and some went down to great depths). This boom went on until the late1800s as lead was also discovered in these mines and around, but by 1880 the boom was failing and mines began to shut down. [Wikipedia]
In the meantime, we have our Lord who had had measles as a teenager.
It is a rare complication of measles that can cause sterility in males if there is severe testicular inflammation, although sterility is more often caused by mumps of course. So a romance between these two was an issue – firstly she was Trade; secondly she was older than him; and thirdly he believed she would want more children. And our widow was very wary about the prospect of marrying again as then she would lose control of her business and fortune and her daughter’s future.
I thought this was an interesting story told with great style and even though it lacked humour it was rich in snippets about just how the Victorian world was developing in the Sciences and investigations of the natural world. 5