Pursuing Mr. Mattingly


Lady Sophia Winterbourne-Stratford-Forrester is a widow twice over, and is dying, according to her doctor. She has a heart ailment, and has between a few weeks and a few months left to live. She is mostly concerned about her precocious 12-year-old daughter, Hannah, who has been without a father for 6 years, and how she can communicate that she may soon be an orphan. She is spending the summer at Ettesmere Park, struggling with herself about wanting to live fully, but not wanting to tax her heart. Lady Sophia soon meets a stranger who is stranded near her family’s home, when his carriage axle breaks near Berkshire County, England in 1819. Oliver Mattingly is the American Ambassador to England, and an adventurer who has never had an intimate relationship; he’s been a confirmed bachelor, putting his career ahead of marriage. Sophia’s conflicts are very clear; does she really live and shorten her life, or slowly die, and prolong her life?

Oliver Mattingly is drawn to Sophia and her daughter from the start, but is he getting a ready-made family, or just a step-daughter, if Sophia dies quickly? These are all questions that are explored as these protagonists decide in which direction to go. The pace is moderate throughout the story, with a few slower sections, and the tension is mild, with a couple of exceptions. This is a thought-provoking story that grapples with what it means to live and to die, and with the quality and type of living that each person must choose for their own life. The story is part of a series, and characters from the series are featured in this story.

Carey Sullivan