The Three Miss Margarets is an irresistible, page-turning exploration of the past and the myriad ways it exerts a hold on the present. “Rich, funny . . . Fans of Fannie Flagg and Adriana Trigiani, take note. Shaffer has created a little piece of heaven.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer Miss Peggy, Dr. Maggie, and Miss Li’l Bit, friends and confidantes for nearly a lifetime, find it funny and bewildering that they have become icons in Charles Valley, Georgia. Little does the rest of the town know that beneath the irreproachable façades of its three doyennes lies an explosive decades-old secret that is about to be revealed. Thirty-odd years ago the three Miss Margarets did something extraordinary, clandestine, and very illegal. Although they are haunted by the night that changed their lives, they believe that their crime was simply a matter of righting an egregious wrong. But when a stranger’s arrival in town and a tragic death open the floodgate of memory, their loyalty, friendship, and honor are tested in ways they could never have imagined—particularly when they have to contend with Laurel Selene, a young woman who has spent her life nursing an alcoholic mother and a huge grudge. Now Laurel is on the verge of discovering what happened the night the three Miss Margarets swore their oath of secrecy. Once she knows, will she reveal the truth about the three women she was raised to despise? Or will she face her own troubled history and put the dark legacy they all share behind them?
Nineteenth-century observers of social and religious life in England felt that religion, class and gender were frameworks that previous generations had taken for granted but that were becoming more and more problematic as the century progressed. An analysis of Margaret Oliphant's Chronicles of Carlingford in the context of contemporary fiction and nonfiction demonstrates the extent to which these novels contributed to the contemporary debate. Oliphant offers a comprehensive and uncommonly balanced picture of the most visible parties in English religious life in the 1860s and '70s and draws attention to the arbitrariness and power of social signifying practices. She questions traditional gender roles by portraying talented and self-confident female characters whose superficial conformity to societal conventions can hardly disguise their determination to take control both of their own lives and of the lives of others.