LIKE HER MORE illustrious son Anthony, the narrator and heroine of this novel, Frances Trollope, was a writer of prodigious industry. When her first book, the best-selling Domestic Manners of the Americans, was published in 1832, she was already *-two. Impelled by the need to support her increasingly impoverished family, after her invalid husband, prey to alternating fits of violence and extreme lassitude, had ceased to be the breadwinner, she produced a further forty substantial volumes in the next twenty-five years.
Edmund White would have us suppose that, in addition to those forty volumes, there was also a forty-first, written when Frances, approaching her eighties, was already in state of physical and mental decline. Initially she intended this book to be a biography of her beloved enemy, Fanny Wright. It was