Another case from Unquiet Lives:
In November 1788, Eleanor Smith confessed to her husband, William, a Northumberland clergyman, that she had been unfaithful and that their youngest child was in fact fathered by her lover. Eleanor and the little boy went to live with her mother and by November 1790 William had gained a separation. Yet he paid maintenance to Eleanor and 2s a week towards the child’s support. Interestingly, when William died in 1812, nearly twenty-two years later, he left no will and Eleanor, described as his widow, was appointed as administrator.
How would you like to see this show up in a book? I always love brought-together-by-a-will plotlines, even when they’re totally ridiculous from a legal standpoint. Some thoughts:
1. The hero is Eleanor’s son by her lover. When Eleanor must return to administer William’s will/estate, he falls in love with William’s poor orphaned niece, who has been serving as William’s hostess and now has nowhere to live.
2. Eleanor is the heroine, and the hero is William’s lawyer. (Is the lawyer also her lover from so many years ago?)
3. The heroine is William’s oldest daughter, whose family was torn apart when she was a little girl. Now she’s reunited with her mother and half-brother and must untangle her complex feelings about the past…I assume she has a long-term suitor she hasn’t been able to trust because of her conflicted feelings about marriage.
What do you think?