It is 1859. Eliza Forester is left motherless at the tender age of three when her father orders his wife from the house, accusing her of infidelity. He keeps the child, not out of love since he is certain she is not his, but to spite his wife. Her name is never mentioned at Harcourt Barton, the beautiful Jacobean house and estate near Exeter owned by Eliza?s father. Eliza grows up believing her mother is dead. Her happiest times are spent with Ruby and Jerome, the children of tenant farmers on her father?s estate. When, at sixteen, Eliza?s innocent friendship with Jerome turns to love, Eliza ? like her mother ? is banished to London to live with her aunt. Her father, determined she will make a ?good? match, lies to her that Jerome has married, and forces her to wed aristocratic, dissolute Hedworth Lambton. It is the greatest mistake of her life ? though one good thing comes of it, a son, William. This is the story of a woman who loses everything ? the man she loves, her inheritance, her child, and very nearly her sanity ? due to the envy and greed of those who should love, not hate her. But Eliza Forester loses neither her backbone nor her soul, and in the end love triumphs.
Anita Burgh lives in France. She has four children and five grandchildren.