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Mrs. Halliburton's Troubles
by Mrs. Henry Wood
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MRS. HALLIBURTON'S TROUBLES is one of the less sensational novels written by Mrs. Henry Wood, which is to say that only half the characters have to contend with debt, seduction, murder, roguery, deception, and that worst of all Victorian fates, sinking below their class. These are the troubles that beset those without the strength of will and sterling moral character of the novel's heroine, the widowed Mrs. Halliburton, who supports her children with nothing more than unremitting labor and a belief in God. Mrs. Halliburton's iron will contrasts with the dissolute lifestyle of the Halliburtons' cousins, the Dares, who suffer one scandal and disgrace after another. In the end, of course, God helps only those who helped themselves. The dramatic trials of Mrs. Halliburton and the scandalous doings of the Dares made MRS. HALLIBURTON'S TROUBLES one of the best-selling novels of 1862, and added another triumph to Mrs. Henry Wood's long line of successes. Although she is all but forgotten in modern literary circles, Mrs. Henry Wood was one of the most famous novelists of the Victorian period, with a sales record that rivaled Dickens. Where Dickens portrayed social forces as well as characters, however, Wood emphasized the power of the individual. For her, Mrs. Halliburton's poverty is an opportunity to explore the idea of character and the ways in which people determine their own fate. In this Mrs. Henry Wood anticipated the rags-to-riches novels of Horatio Alger.
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