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The second volume in the Herries Chronicle, it's the story of tempestuous Judith Herries, daughter of Rogue Herries. Both her parents die on the day she's born, and she's raised by her half brother David, who's 55 years older than she. She marries Georges Paris, a smuggler and gambler, and is unhappy with him. When Georges is violently killed by an avenging father, Judith goes to live with nephew Francis and his wife. A feud breaks out in the Herries household, which is carried over into the next novel in the Chronicle (THE FORTRESS). Judith has an affair with Warren Foster, leaves him, but has a child by him.
The story is a strong one, though saturated with violence (Judith's husband, nephew and lover all die in the story). The character portrayals are good, especially of Judith and Jennifer Cards, Francis's wife and initiator of the feud. The final quarter of the book is not as good as what came before; Judith's sudden delivery of her son is hard to believe, and the action from that point on drags. The book is set during the early years of the 18th century. Among the better of Walpole's novels.