A virtuous young lady, orphaned and poor, agrees to become the salaried companion of a worldly woman traveling to Paris.
Mrs. Alexander (1825-1902), born Annie French (her pen name was derived from the first name of her husband, Alexander Hector) wrote over 60 novels between 1854 and 1902. The Wooing O't, despite its self-consciously traditional plot (the title comes from the mocking chorus of Robert Burns's comic song "Duncan Gray"), represents social conflict and emotional ambivalence with rare skill.
"Marvelously successful in painting a most repulsive gallery of unmitigated vulgarians, both in the London chemist's shop in which she launches her heroine, and in the second-rate Parisian circle, in which she accomplishes her introduction to what is called fashionable society." Athenaeum, September 27, 1873
"The book has a pleasant vivacity and movement, and the worldly, frivolous people who flit about in it are all agreeable, like people one meets at a garden-party, and never cares to meet again, but who chat easily as they eat ices and knock croquet-balls about." Spectator, October 11, 1873
"The whole character of Maggie is very tenderly touched and very clearly conceived. In so far as she is concerned, The Wooing O't has the merit of originality. She is flesh and blood, and stands out solidly…. Not a line about her is exaggerated." Saturday Review, November 8, 1873
"There is nothing very startling about the plot, no desperate passions or mysterious relationships, nor do any of the characters bring themselves within the range of the criminal law. But the interest is sustained, the conversations natural, and the characters well drawn." North American Review, April 1874
Download this week's novel:
First Edition (1873), British Library
Eighth Edition (1890), Archive.org