THE COUNTRY GENTLEMAN is a stand-alone romance featuring a romance between the very practical vicar's daughter and a mysterious gentleman who has bought a nearby estate. Prudence has loving parents, but her mother is constantly ailing - therefore much of the parish work falls to Prudence who wins hearts by visiting the poor and ill. [This book is also a marvellous indictment of the effects that landlord actions such as enclosure and converting agricultural land to shooting preserves had on the rural population].Prudence has one big fear - she is not getting any younger, and there are few eligible men around. They do have a large military camp nearby which provides some excitement. In the meantime, the mysterious Mr Harris quietly learns the ways of local society. Prudence discovers much to her astonishment that he is an intimate of one Sir Arthur Wellesley whose visit to the area is to be kept secret. [Why? We learn later].During the romance, there is a fire in the village, and a good description of rural firefighting methods. During the fire, an official document goes missing. Prudence's suspicions fall on Mr Harris. The real spy is unmasked dramatically. This book is a pleasant read about village life from the point of view of a conscientious vicar's daughter and a new landowner. The descriptions of the ringing of the bells, the dilapidated estate belonging to a largely absentee landowner, and the general socio-economic condition of rural England circa 1807 are well worth reading. The romance is a bit weaker, but still convincing. Recommended reading for lovers of traditional Regency romances.
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