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Vera (1921) by Elizabeth von Arnim is a black comedy based on her disastrous second marriage to Earl Russell: a mordant analysis of the romantic delusions through which wives acquiesce in husbands' tyrannies. In outline the story of this utterly unromantic novel anticipates DuMaurier's Rebecca. Naive Lucy Entwhistle is swept into marriage by widower, Everard Wemyss. His mansion "The Willows" is pervaded by the spectre of his dead wife Vera, with whom Lucy becomes obsessed. ... Here the servants are partisan for both wives, and lose no opportunity to disrupt Everard's unctuous, oppressive household routines. An extraordinarily black vision of marriage, also continuously funny, the novel's power lies in the wit and economy of the usually prolix Von Arnim.
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