The Sylph (Illustrated)


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The Sylph is an epistolary novel. It centres on Julia Grenville, a Welsh beauty and ingenue (with whom there are parallels with Cavendish herself) who leaves her idyllic rustic life to marry a rich member of the aristocracy. Over the course of time she uncovers the fact that her husband is a rake and a libertine, lavishing his wealth on gambling and mistresses.
The letters are chiefly written to her sisters and provide narrative detail about Julia's life in London and her disillusionment with the mores of the inhabitants of the city as well as her miscarriage. We also discover that she has a long-term admirer, Henry Woodley, that she has growing affections for another man (the Baron Ton-hausen) and also that she has a mysterious and enigmatic protector and guardian, who is the 'sylph' of the title.

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