The image to this cover epitomizes the entire theme of the story. The sense of gentility, softness that pervaded throughout the book is brought out in this cover.
We have the Victorian book - a family story - widowed mother with two grown up marriageable daughters but this mother is no Mrs Bennet. She does not wish to see her daughters married for the sake of marriage though she is well aware of how important money, status and position are. Despite this she is not one to impose her views on her children and any reservations she has regarding her daughter's choice of partners is kept hidden from them though known to the readers. I thought she was the perfect mother (specially for the age in which she lived)
We have the light hearted Lily who has fallen in love with the dishonourable Crosbie who within two weeks of getting engaged to Lily breaks off the engagement and gets engaged to Adrianna the daughter of an earl because he feels that this is more advantageous to him. Bell our other daughter is the steadier one, who you know from the onset is not going to get into any kind of trouble. Both girls do not suffer from any dearth of suitors!
We have so many other characters - and at times I felt too many characters because their stories themselves were detailed and meticulous. If they were just characters on a sideline it may have made the reading easier, but they themselves were intricate ones from Eames the sorry lover who never could make headway with Lily to Bernard, even Lord de Guest and Lady Julia no secondary characters at all but very much part of the story.
As someone said maddening to read (about Lily) but so beautifully put together by the author that one has to finish the book. A great deal of detail, lots of analysis of characters and a very good book for those who like old fashioned literature.