Marriage by Susan Ferrier
Written in 1818, this is the shrewdly observant tale of a young woman's struggles with parental authority and courtship. Twin sisters of an unhappy and impolitic marriage, London-raised Adelaide resembles her rash and imprudent mother, while Mary, brought up quietly by an aunt in Scotland, has the capacity to learn from experience and use her own judgement. Like her contemporaries, Maria Edgeworth and Jane Austen, Susan Ferrier adopts an ideal of rational domesticity, illustrating the virtues of a reasonable heroine who learns to act for herself. By giving her novel a Scottish heroine who leaves her domestic haven in the Highlands to brave the perils of faraway London, Ferrier reversed the usual trajectory of the female coming-of-age fiction. Challenging the conventions of romance narrative, the novel also serves to expose English prejudice towards the Scots as itself a form of provincialism. This new edition features an introduction incorporating recent critical work on national identity and gender, and firmly situating the novel within the context of both Scottish literature and women's writing.