The Semi-Attached Couple (1860)

by Emily Eden

Emily Eden was only a generation younger than her favorite writer, Jane Austen. Critics have compared her with Austen because of the domestic comedy and witty dialogue of her two novels, The Semi-Detached House and The Semi-Attached Couple. The latter was written in 1829 but not published until 1860.

The Semi-Attached Couple begins where an Austen novel leaves off: with a marriage. When wealthy, beautiful Lady Helen Eskdale marries wealthy, handsome Lord Teviot, neither knows the other well or is sufficiently mature for marriage. Their misunderstandings are both funny and pitiable. Teviot is jealous of Helen’s attachment to her family and attention to anyone but himself; Helen, only 18 years old, doesn’t understand his petulant flare-ups. It isn’t until Teviot is ill and Helen nurses him that their future looks bright.

Eden lacks Austen’s depth and character development, but The Semi-Attached Couple rises above pure escapism and by the end is touching. The author was rescued from obscurity by Virago's Modern Classics reissues.


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