Old Court Volume One by William Harrison Ainsworth


This book was published in 1867 and very hard to get hold off – I got it out my local library as a rare book.

The story follows the Chetwynd family. Sir Hugh, the oldest is competing with his younger brother Clarence for the affection of Amice. Having sworn never to speak to each other again, Sir Hugh follows Clarence to Kent with a proposition. However, at their secret meeting up by the famous grave, Clarence is murdered. After his brother’s death, Sir Hugh discovers some distressing news – Amice was in fact Clarence’s wife, and she is with child. He offers her everything, but she flees. Sir Hugh leads a dull, depressing life. He marries and has a daughter, but never loved his wife – who died shortly after their daughter’s birth. He spends his life looking for Amice and his nephew/niece. The story follows Hugh, Clarence’s offspring and Hugh’s daughter. The story is not concluded in this book, and we left with Lucette, the daughter, in Brighton with several marriage proposals, Hugh on a mission to find any record of Amice’s death and the child’s birth, and Clarence’s offspring alone in Hugh’s home with a mysterious French man, who seems to have ulterior motives.

Well, I really enjoyed this book. Considering it was written over 100 years ago, language was not a problem. The book was entertaining and engaging. It did not take me long to read this book at all, and I enjoyed it so much I have reserved the following two volumes as I really want to know what is going to happen.

All the characters were well written. I felt for Hugh. He lost the woman he loved to his brother, his brother was killed, and just as he began to love his wife, she died. Life seemed to deal him a hard hand. His loving side was amazing – and at the end of the book he was going to great lengths to help Amice’s child. I enjoyed reading about Lucette and her adventures in Brighton – all the balls and the attraction she was. The book has proved helpful for my dissertation from that respect.

This book captures the period it was written in magnificently. We are transported back to the 1800s with ease. It gives a vital historical insight into life in this era.

I really enjoyed this book. I can’t think of any faults at all. If you can get hold of it, I recommend you do read this book.


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