Heiring off: Cousin Ivo, by Mrs Alfred Sidgwick (1899)

Another romance from the pen of this Anglo-German writer. Attentive readers who noted my previous post on this author will recall that she originally published this novel under a pseudonym. Like the previous Sidgwick novel I reviewed, this involves one of the main characters travelling to Germany where they Meet Their Destiny. In the case of this novel, it is the hero who is English.

The hero, Jem has suffered a Disappointment. His love has married a fat, elderly lord for his money. He immerses himself in work to Forget. He is a lawyer, and is sent by his firm to track down the relatives of a deceased German expatriate, to tell them something to their advantage. He does this and it turns out the heir is an heiress with whom he is quickly besmitten. Sadly despite being a lawyer, Jem’s finances are not what they could be, and being a gentleman he feels unable to ask the fair Hulda to marry him. She meanwhile is pursued by her dastardly cousin Ivo, who is determined to marry her and secure the inheritance. Naturally, all turns out well in the end but not without much heart stopping excitement.

The narrative is split between a first hand account by Jem, and Hulda’s diary, so we get to see what both the principals think about each other – as well as the inevitable misunderstandings that fire the plot. I was also interested to note the acknowledgement that in British society there was a developing uncertainty about Germany and immigration. This exchange early on, reflects this.

“Mr Berneck was a wealthy manufacturer. He left his native country at an early age and settled in ours.”

“It’s a way they have,” I murmured.

All in all, I enjoyed this book and it’s worth a read if you can find a copy.


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