I feel like this novel is Victorian in the conventional and derogatory understanding. I found the story interesting, but the author wrote in an extremely moralistic and sanctimonious (and unorthodox) style. Anglicanism consists of morals and works and not faith and grace, and the author wrote under the influence of the Oxford movement in Anglicanism which made the practices even more Catholic.
I found the worship of academic knowledge (it is KNOWLEDGE not INTELLIGENCE although that and/or DILIGENCE can speed the accession of knowledge) obnoxious.* The novel displayed such inconsistency and in trying to provide meaning the author made so much futile. How can you speak of intelligence, Classical and diligent study, and spiritual things when you rely on the Church of England rather than the ancient Bible and do not read and study that carefully?! Try for school honors, but oh, be humble and do not point out Richard’s stupidity (?!). Ethel studies Latin and Greek (why?!). They (Norman especially) are haughty about the poor and yet talk so much about spiritual and moral concepts. Dr. May’s parenting is awful. Edith is a lazy slob; her falsely spiritual “spirit-above-matter” attitude was prideful and absurd.
Also, the disparity in intelligence I found ludicrous. I am sorry, but unless a child is mentally handicapped, there is no great disparity in overall intelligence among children of the same family such as displayed in this novel. Richard was labelled dull so many times that I want to strangle the author, his father, Ethel, and Norman all together.
Oh, and when an author destroys a match . . . !!!!!! I do not care if Ethel was annoying, I still wanted her to marry Norman Ogilvie. Main character loyalty strikes again. Oh, I could foresee it, but I was so infuriated.
I know that no novel is perfect and England had (has?) an insincere morality and false honor code, but the author did not weave these assumptions in the book in a subconscious manner, they rather punched me in the face. Think much better written Elsie Dinsmore.
I could not enjoy the story for the style.
*More on this topic in future.