A novel of manners and conversation in the patrician social mielieu of England and London in the 1820's and 1803's. It begins as a novel of courtship, destined to end with the happy betrothal of its heroine, the orphaned Helen Stanley, but it soon turns into the story of Helen's friend Lady Cecilia Clarendon, and the crumbling of her marriage as her beguiling and harmless lies, not told in malice, becomes self-destructive to those whom she loves
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