Title: Disappeared from Her Home
Author and Title: Catherine Louisa Pirkis. Disappeared from Her Home: A Novel
First Edition: London: Remington, 1877. 1 volume, post 8vo., 10s. 6d.
Summary: One day, seventeen-year old Amy Warden goes missing walking into town. Her father, Stephen Warden, offers a reward and hires a detective to trace her. The local townspeople organize a large-scale search of the area, but no clue to her fate turns up. The intellectual Lord Hardcastle and the atheletic Frank Varley (the rector's rich son), rivals for the hand of Amy, both swear to each other to find the woman, living or dead. Mr. Hill, the detective, can not follow Amy's movements past meeting the postman and some farmers on the morning she disappeared. To further his investigation, he questions the servants in the house, immediately suspecting Amy's maid Lucy Williams of hiding something. Her brother Tom has been accused of a crime, fled to American, but has since returned. Hill recommends the maid be watched closely. After smallpox visits the house, Lucy is found missing. Lord Hardcastle examines her room for clues and sends Varley after her. Varley follows her to the house of her London friend named Kempe where he finds Lucy suffering from smallpox and delirious. He discovers that though she stole some jewelry from Amy, she does not know any thing about her lady's disappearance. Varley then attempts to track down Tom in Liverpool and Dublin. Meantime, back at the Warden house, in the midst of a terrible thunderstorm, Mrs. Warden dies shortly before the hound finds the body of Amy in the reeds of the neighboring stream. Inexplicably, she is wearing a wedding band. A mystery to everyone, Mr. Warden puts the name "Aimée" on his daughter's headstone. Varley reacts to the news of Amy's death by falling into a fever—his mother and Mary Burton (a family friend) rush to his aid and nurse him back to health. When he recovers, Varley marries Mary. Lord Hardcastle moves in with Mr. Warden to help him through his grief: eventually, the latter confesses his history to Lord Hardcastle. In his youth, Warden contracted a hasty marriage with a beautiful but imperious French woman named Aimée. Together they have a daughter named Aimée, later called Amy. Warden tries to moderate her behavior but she abandons him with her maid Isola leaving the daughter behind. Warden later hears of his wife's death. He marries his daughter's governess and returns to England. Lord Hardcastle convinces Warden to take a trip to France for his health. While there, Lord Hardcastle discovers Amy and Isola and he reunites father and daughter. Amy tells her story: receiving a letter from her mother, she met Isola who spirited her away to France to meet her mother still living in a nunnery. The sickly woman has a fancy to see her husband once more: disguised in her daughter's clothes (whom she closely resembles) she sneaks out of the nunnery and dies in the grounds of Warden's house. The novel ends with Lord Hardcastle marrying Amy. (TJB)
References: BL; EC
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