Cecil: or, The adventures of a coxcomb

Only a few weeks after spouting marvelous praise at Catherine Gore’s Mothers and Daughters, which was magnificent, I must pan Gore’s most well-known book, the 1845 Cecil. The whole thing goes off the rails after a few hundred good-ish pages of the trials of a second son, thus not in line for inheritance, whose sole accomplishment is good looks and breeding. He falls for a daughter of a Portuguese merchant who’s been taken in as ward of his father (Lord Ormington)’s business manager while Cecil himself is working for the ambassador. Emily (the Portuguese) leaves the country, and although he’s forbidden to make contact with her, Cecil follows on an errand for the ambassador, falls ill, when recovered finds that Emily has died. At this point, things go absolutely bonkers. He starts hanging out with Lord Byron, of all people. Trips to Italy, falling in love with a German woman whose pet finch he captures then returns to her, who then spits at his feet after he attempts to woo her. Did I mention that he’s also involved in the death of his older brother’s only son, thereby being nicknamed the assassin? Aficionados, readers, skip this one.