Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
The Marriage of William Ashe
Mary Augusta Ward (1851–1920)
Marriage of William Ashe, The, by Mrs. Humphry Ward (1905). This is a story of English life, social and political. William Ashe, the hero of the tale, rich, handsome and well-born, heir to the title of Earl of Tranmore, and successful politician, makes a hasty marriage with Lady Kitty Bristol, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Madame d’Estrees (by her first husband, Lord Blackwater). Ashe first meets Kitty at a reception given by her mother, who in spite of her questionable reputation draws many influential men about her by her personal charm. The sight of so young a girl amid such unwholesome surroundings appeals to the sympathy of Ashe, and later her beauty and witchery win his love while they are visiting together at the house of Lady Grosville, Kitty’s aunt, three weeks from their first meeting. Ashe proposes to Kitty and is accepted, though she warns him that her hasty temper and uncontrollable nature may cause him to regret this step. They are next seen three years later settled in a house in London where Kitty’s love of excitement causes her to plunge madly into the social vortex. Ashe proves a devoted and indulgent husband, allowing his wife every liberty which her unconventional nature demands. They have one child, a partially crippled boy, who is a great disappointment to Kitty and whom she alternates in treating with affection and indifference. Kitty’s waywardness proves a serious drawback to her husband’s promising political career; she alienates the friendship of Lord Parham, the prime minister upon whom Ashe’s promotion depends, and enters into a violent flirtation with Geoffrey Cliffe, whose poetic and unprincipled nature has a strong fascination for her. The death of her child, following a season of extreme gaiety, leaves Kitty a physical wreck and Ashe takes her to Italy to try to win back her health. Here she again meets Cliffe and eventually flees with him while her husband is in England endeavoring to suppress a scurrilous book which she has written. The finale comes some two years later when Ashe and Kitty meet unexpectedly at a small inn in the Alps; the latter who has sustained many hardships is in a dying condition and passes away soothed and comforted by her husband’s presence.  1
  Mrs. Ward found suggestion for her fiction in historical persons. Kitty is drawn from Lady Caroline Lamb, William Ashe from Lord Melbourne, and Cliffe from Lord Byron.  2

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