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The story opens with Valeria Brinton marrying Eustace Woodville over the objections of Woodville's family. Soon after the wedding Valeria becomes uneasy and starts to suspect her husband is hiding something from his past. Her suspicions are confirmed when she finds he has been using a false name. Collins used his experience studying law to help create one of the earliest female sleuths.
Zitkala-Sa (Red Bird) 1876 - 1938 was born and raised on the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota. She lived a traditional lifestyle until age eight when she left for Quaker school. Old Indian Legends is a collection of folktales that she gathered during her visits home to the reservation.
Ruth Hilton, a young orphaned seamstress, becomes involved with Harry Bellingham - a gentleman who ultimately deserts her, leaving a terrible legacy. Ruth copes and begins to re-build her life, only to re-encounter Harry. The honest portrayal of Ruth and her illegitimate child were a challenge to the views of the society when it was written in 1853.
Teresa of Avila was major figure of the Catholic Reformation - a prominent mystic, writer, and reformer. At age seven she ran away from home to 'find martyrdom amongst the Moors'. At twenty she joined the Carmelite nuns. She resolved to found a new convent based on the principal of absolute poverty and renunciation of property. This, and the three kinds of ritual flagellation used at services, disturbed the laity. Later, the Carmelites tried to suppress her movement. After Don Quixote this is Spain's mode widely read prose classic.
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