Log in to rate this item
Honey Waverley, ignorant and abused daughter of a hard-drinking, irascible mountain man, is called home when her father is mortally injured in a brawl. On his deathbed he forces her to promise to set out with her younger sister, from their North Carolina mountains, and make the long, dangerous journey to piedmont Virginia. There they must beg a home with his cousin, Matthew Waverley, an influential member of the Virginia Assembly. His intention is to burden the Virginia Waverleys, who had disowned him, with supporting his daughters. At the same time he can punish Honey for running away from home, by placing her in the humiliating position of a poor relation. How can Honey, an ignorant backwoods girl, find acceptance with the wealthy and cultivated Waverleys? Although received kindly by her cousin, she must endure the scorn of his imperious wife, suspicion from his pious mother, and ridicule from his young daughter. The time is 1791. The novel begins among the birth pangs of the United States: controversies over slavery, the Bill of Rights, the rise of political parties, and the ascent of the "New Lights" (Baptists and Methodists) at the expense of the Anglican Church. Matthew Waverley finds himself at odds with his family and neighbors concerning these questions, particularly slavery, a system which he depends upon, but abhors. He must somehow preserve his integrity while dealing with political obligations and plantation management. He must also contend with a sometimes-hostile wife, a dangerous neighbor who will finally bring tragedy to the family, and a brother-in-law who, while courting Matthew's young ward, is amorously involved with a French refugee from the bloody uprising in Haiti.