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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.
Widely seen as Eliot's greatest work, it is almost unanimously acclaimed as one of the great Victorian era novels. George Eliot (aka Mary Anne Evans) interweaves the diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community to create a richly nuanced and moving drama. Hailed by Virginia Woolf in The Times Literary Supplement, 1919 as 'one of the few English novels written for grown-up people'.
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.
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