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Hilda is saved from destitution by Edwin Clayhanger who marries her. The two, with Hilda's son by her disastrous 'marriage' to George Cannon, are living in Bursley. Edwin does not enjoy an entirely happy marriage with Hilda because of her outspokenness. Hilda has strong opinions on matters which at the time were considered to be a male preserve – for example, on Edwin’s business. She also does things without telling him. As a consequence, Edwin has his doubts about their marriage and is angered by his wife just as he had been by his father. The book shows how Hilda and Edwin attempt to compromise, its title being a play on words: does it mean "these two" or "these separate"? It is suggested that they had both become perhaps too set in their ways before their marriage, even though each was in some way 'saved' by their union.
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