But is he legitimate? Are his parents in fact properly united in holy wedlock? And were they so at the time of his birth on alien soil? How on earth to find out? The book, which starts almost as a comedy of manners (and perhaps also a comedy of manors), takes on a darker and more sardonic tone with this mystery, and with some other suspected and actual romantic entanglements which are not entirely in the aristocratic Victorian rule-book. Among the large cast of characters are two memorable foreigners: the repellent German feminist Baroness Bannmann, and the rather more attractive American version, Amelia Q. Fleabody (not, of course, to be confused in any way with the real Elizabeth Peabody, who under another name, lies at the heart of Henry James's The Bostonians).(Summary by Nicholas Clifford)
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