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Jane & Mary Findlater

Crossriggs by Jane & Mary Findlater (Virago Modern Classics)

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Alex,’ he said, ‘you have a genius for living! You just know how to do it . . . You’re alive, and most of us, with our prudence and foresight and realization of our duties, are as dead as stones!'”

Alexandra Hope lives with her unworldly, vegetarian father, her widowed sister and five nieces and nephews in the Scottish village of Crossriggs. Whilst her sister Mathilda perfectly plays that Victorian role of feminine helplessness, Alex – clever, plain with a sharp wit – refuses the first suitable man to propose, choosing spinsterhood and the support of her poverty-stricken family. But earning a living is just one difficulty to be faced – for Alexandra secretly loves a married man. First published in 1908, Crossriggs is both a delightful Austenesque tale of village life and a powerful portrait of a woman who combines the morality of her Protestant heritage with all the courage and passion of the “New Woman” of the 1890s.

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