A pale, pleasant little Victorian tale set in peaceful rural England and laced with teas, social calls, and drives through the countryside. Sisters Laura and Nell, orphan wards of an affluent uncle, are not at all alike. Nell is conforming and docile, her uncle's favorite; Laura paints, seriously, studies Latin and Greek, and yearns to go to college. Her friendship with two young feminists stirs the uncle's righteous wrath and indirectly sets in motion the events leading to Nell's accidental death--a tragedy foreseen in a dream. Broken by sorrow and guilt, Laura attempts expiation--even burns her paintings. She does go to college but the novel closes on a more ringing note of Emma-like accomplishment. Laura realizes she loves Henry, a rather older suitor who has been in the background all this time. ""Then Laura left her tiresome parasol unopened and. . . put her hand in his."" Pure as the driven snow and a natural for the shrinking but rightfully demanding audience that wants to keep romance in the parlor.