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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Title: Olive

Author and Title: Dinah Marie Craik. Olive: A Novel

First Edition: London: Chapman and Hall, 1850. 3 volumes, post 8vo., 31s. 6d.

Summary: Olive Rothesay is the daughter of the proud Scottish soldier Angus Rothesay and his beautiful English wife Sybilla. Born with a curvature of the spine, Olive is rejected by her ashamed mother and raised by her sympathetic nurse Elspie. The child is born during the father's absence and his first knowledge of Olive's condition is revealed on his return—he is bothered more by his wife's lie (of omission) about Olive deformity than the deformity itself. Despite the estrangement between her parents, Olive's humility and gentleness hold the family together. At her father's death, Olive becomes the caretaker of her mother. They move close to London where they live next door to a struggling painter Vanbrugh and his sister. Under his tutelage, she becomes a painter which helps to support her mother and pay her father's debt to Rev. Harold Gwynne. After her mother's death, Olive moves once again, this time to the neighborhood of Harold, now a widower. She nurses a love for him that he is unable to return due to his crisis of faith. Olive's sympathy and Christian example eventually win over Harold and an inheritance from an aunt secures their future. A subplot in the novel centers on Christal, the illegitimate Creole daughter of Angus: when her parentage is revealed, she attempts to kill Olive in revenge for her wronged mother. The two are reconciled and Christal joins a convent. (TJB)

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References: BL; EC