The Morgesons – Elizabeth Stoddard

This is Elizabeth Drew Stoddard (1823-1902).

She published her first novel ‘The Morgesons’ in 1862.

We follow the development of heroine, Cassandra Morgeson, and her unworldly sister Veronica.

Cassandra develops a taste for the wrong kind of man, falling in love with her married cousin Charles.

After he dies when their carriage overturns, she becomes infatuated with Desmond Somers, who is tainted by the family curse of alcoholism.

Her mother dies; her father bankrupts himelf, then secretly remarries Charles’s widow, alienating Cassandra.

Veronica marries Desmond’s brother, Ben. Desmond returns from self-exile in Spain, having overcome his demons thanks to his undying love for Cassandra. Both sisters seem destined to live happily ever after, but Ben takes to drink and dies.

It is a curious, cryptic, enigmatic novel in which the rigid 19th Century social conventions dominate only superficially.

Meanwhile, the dialogue and characterisation often speak of a more elliptical, irrational, chaotic and ultimately unknowable reality lying hidden somewhere beneath.


April 2023

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