#1 - Chapter 1
Anna Estcourt, twenty-five and beautiful, is the penniless ward of her distant brother and his exasperating wife. Turning down all offers of marriage, scornful at the thought of leaning on a man for help and comfort, she thinks only of the independence which seems an impossible dream. But out of the blue Uncle Joachim, her mother's brother, leaves her a handsome property in Germany. Her longed for independence is within her grasp, and though it's a rocky beginning with the locals, she loves her new home. Keen to use her new-found wealth for the benefit of others, she embarks on a plan to throw open her doors to distressed gentlewomen - a project which takes a far greater physical and emotional toll than she could have imagined. Although she maintains that she is not interested in men, might the friendship of her neighbouring landowner, Axel Lohm, make her new life a little easier to bear?...
A warm, charming story which is packed with Elizabeth von Arnim's trademark humour and wry observation of character. It's also a perceptive critique of society's constraints on women, holding up a glass to all the artfulness and falseness of 'femininity' - but despite its strong feminist overtones, it manages simultaneously to be a wonderful romantic comedy!
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