I did not like this novel. A weak, unworthy character and circumstantial salvation/restoration/development of moral character.
A lady with a nice son and daughter tries reforming a wild young man, Ormond, after someone is nearly killed. Ormond takes a tiny step and then slides into philandering.
He then is fascinated by a empty-headed doll. He sees through her. He does not. Does he ever? He is saved from marrying her when she marries another, but since he did not break with her . . . not pleasing. (Unfortunately he is not actually saved from her and what is worse he does not save himself which would have prevented all future problems).
Now a polished but morally weak young man (whitewashed tomb anyone?), he is reacquainted with the honorable family (and much more slowly than before) falls in love with the daughter. The son dies (what was his point in the story . . . aiding the romance?). Ormond sees another man making a proposal, jumps to the wrong conclusion (although his lady should have chosen that more worthier man . . . yet I had that main-character-loyalty for him that made me want them to marry), and runs away (wow, way to really pursue with perseverance) . . . to France and the married empty-headed doll.
He is at the point of becoming the lover of the horrible doll when he is called away on business affairs (like I said, circumstantial salvation and morality). Eventually after confusion is sorted out he marries the lady.
The match does not feel like a love match because of the intensity of Ormond’s emotions with the horrid doll and the fact that more emphasis is given to Ormond and the horrid doll’s connection, actions, reactions, conversations, etc than to those between him and his future wife. The style of writing devoted to any of the real couple scenes is cursory in contrast the style of writing involving Ormond and the horrid girl which evokes a feeling of intensity. (Are there any conversations between him and his future wife?! Or is it just descriptions, and brief, for-information rather than for-illustration descriptions at that). Ugh.
As you can surmise from the title, some of the content of this novel dwells on the problem of absenteeism of Irish landlords (in the 18th and 19th centuries). The young hero, Columbre, discovers the worth of his native land and sees firsthand some of the issues caused by his father’s absence. His mother wastes money trying to outstrip her London acquaintances in glamour, and so she stands in the way of the careful stewardship of the family’s Irish estates. For money and vanity she also stands in the way of her son’s love match.
Circumstantial salvation saves the day (erg). While in Ireland Columbre almost falls prey to a scheming mother and daughter, despite being warned by an older person, and he only escapes after overhearing the schemers (the worst of this circumstantial salvation). His match prospers (I do not think he falls in love until well into the novel, and after the Irish trip) because the lady his mother intends him to marry discovers the love match and is too dignified and generous to disrupt it (I think she too marries for love eventually; I like when every decent character finds love and am disappointed when it does not occur). And I think Columbre’s mother is convinced to move back to Ireland only after realizing how low her London acquaintances think of her. I do not know, but I do not think that she should have been allowed to waste money and force a marriage just because she is the mother (I do not think the father exerted much will-power although I think he was alive).
I am sorry for another scrambled review from a book I read quite a while ago.