Rachel Ray is an 1863 novel by Anthony Trollope. It recounts the story of a young woman who is forced to give up her fiancÚ because of baseless suspicions directed toward him by the members of her community, including her sister and the pastors of the two churches attended by her sister and mother. The novel was originally commissioned for Good Words, a popular magazine directed at pious Protestant readers. However, the magazine's editor, upon reading the galley proofs, concluded that the negative portrayals of the Low church and Evangelical characters would anger and alienate much of his readership. The novel was never published in serial form.Rachel Ray is the younger daughter of a lawyer's widow. She lives with her mother and her widowed sister, Dorothea Prime, in a cottage near Exeter in Devon. Mrs. Ray is amiable but weak, unable to make decisions on her own and ruled by her older daughter. Mrs. Prime is a strict and gloomy Evangelical, persuaded that all worldly joys are impediments to salvation. Rachel is courted by Luke Rowan, a young man from London who has inherited an interest in the profitable local brewery. Mrs. Prime suspects his morals and motives, and communicates these suspicions to her mother. Mrs. Ray consults her pastor, the Low Churchman Charles Comfort; and upon his vouching for Rowan, allows Rachel to accept his offer of marriage. Soon after this, Rowan falls into a dispute with the senior proprietor of the brewery, and returns to London to seek legal advice. Rumours circulate about his conduct in Devon; Comfort believes the rumours, and advises Mrs. Ray to end the engagement between Rachel and Rowan. Rachel obeys her mother's instructions to write Rowan and release him from the engagement. When he fails to respond, she grows increasingly depressed. Rowan returns to Devon, and the dispute over the brewery is settled to his satisfaction. This accomplished, he calls upon the Rays and assures Rachel that his love for her is still strong. She assents to his renewed proposals. Marital bliss ensues. A subplot involves the abortive courtship of Mrs. Prime by her pastor, Samuel Prong. Prong is a zealous but intolerant Evangelical. His religious beliefs are in agreement with hers, but the two have incompatible notions of marriage: Prong insists on a husband's authority over his wife, and in particular over the income from her first husband's estate; Mrs. Prime wants to retain control of her money, and is otherwise unwilling to submit to a husband's rule.James Pope-Hennessy described Rachel Ray as "Trollope's tirade against the West Country evangelical clergy".Like his mother, Frances Trollope, who had caricatured them in her Vicar of Wrexhill, Anthony Trollope had no fondness for Evangelicals. In the novel, Samuel Prong, like Obadiah Slope of Barchester Towers, has an ill-favored appearance, pursues marriage for money rather than love,and is "not a gentleman". Mrs. Prime is morose and motivated by a love of power;her Dorcas Society lieutenant, Miss Pucker, is a sour gossip-mongering spinster with a disfiguring squint.Rachel's happiness is threatened by the machinations of the Evangelical characters, and the intervention of two of her non-Evangelical neighbours is critical in salvaging it... Anthony Trollope ( 24 April 1815 – 6 December 1882) was one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era. Among his best-loved works is a series of novels collectively known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire, which revolves around the imaginary county of Barsetshire. He also wrote perceptive novels on political, social, and gender issues, and on other topical matters. Trollope's literary reputation dipped somewhat during the last years of his life,but he regained the esteem of critics by the mid-twentieth century. Henry Woods RA (22 April 1846 – 27 October 1921) was an English painter and illustrator, and one of the leading Neo-Venetian school artists.
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