By Carrie MacMillan
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Additional info for Silenced Sextet: Six Nineteenth-Century Canadian Women Novelists
Francis Mullins' business expanded. By 1847 he described himself as an importer and marine storekeeper; he had acquired large holdings of waterfront property on Commissioner Street and Place Royale. His family lived in the upper stories of the building that housed his store. Mullins later expanded his real-estate interests and moved his family to Wellington Street into a house that he named Erina Cottage. He sat on the city council for three years, 1858-60, and was recognized as one of Montreal's most successful businessmen.
She has the liveliness of manner and speech of Leprohon's worldly British women. Antoinette, too, has a lively manner until the full impact of her situation strikes her. Her handsome husband is soon revealed to be a gambling, flirtatious fortunehunter. And no sooner are they married than Antoinette realizes her attraction to the somewhat dour Colonel Evelyn. The colonel, under a Byronic exterior, is actually kind and courageous, while Antoinette's husband under his charming exterior hides a sadistic and villainous nature.
The Stepmother also adheres to other conventions of the genre: it focuses on courtship, uses surprise plot twists, sets its major scenes in ballrooms and by deathbeds, and it depends on quick dialogue to carry the story-line. In all these respects the young author shows herself capable of pleasing her genteel, early Victorian audience; but she adds some very personal touches. The plot focuses on an intense duel between a proper convent-bred young lady and a power-hungry vivacious rival. The theme of the alien intruding into a family circle and disrupting its serenity will recur in Rosanna's subsequent stories, with varying emphases.