The "Marcia Schuyler" Trilogy

Marcia Schuyler by Grace Livingston HillGrace Livingston Hill's "Marcia Schuyler" was published in February 1908 by J. B. Lippincott Company and became her first big success as an author. In fact, the book was so popular that Lippincott printed quite a number of editions to satisfy demand.

Its story of a substitute bride comes from the pages of family history. A friend of Grace's suggested a period novel and her family shared a bit of the bride's tale, which intrigued her. She made a visit to her aunt's home in New York for details.

Margaret Livingston Murray, Grace's aunt, was an interesting lady in her own right. Born in 1810, she was one of the earliest women's rights leaders in America. Her home in New York City became the center of a group of people that included Dr. Henry Ward Beecher, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Chester A. Arthur, John D. Archbold, and Dr. Seward Webb.

Frontispiece by Anna Whelan BettsWhen Grace visited New York to learn more about her family history, Margaret was in her 90's, but she was willing to give all the help she could to her young niece. As a thank you for her part in the project, Grace offered to dedicate the book to her aunt, but she refused. She suggested that it be dedicated to the memory of her brother (and Grace's father), Rev. Charles Montgomery Livingston, and so it is.

As Grace adapted the story, it's more than certain that the names and other details were changed, but the story's heart is still in evidence. There are both Schuylers and Spaffords in Grace's family tree, but the only David Spafford was born nearly a century too soon to be "Marcia's David". Details from quite a few of the paintings wove their way into the text of the stories.

The Story of Marcia and David

When beautiful Kate Schuyler elopes with the dashing Captain Leavenworth on the eve of her wedding to David Spafford, no one is aware until the next morning. The family is beyond shocked and (although it's hard to fathom from a 21st century perspecitve) they are eager to save face. Young Marcia takes her errant sister's place as bride, sacrificing her own young life which was just beginning to bud.

David is devastated that his beloved has forsaken him. He vows to treat Marcia as a dear little sister (and he does his best), but his grief is so deep that he doesn't see the daily love and devotion she gives to him. She works hard to fill her sister's role, wearing ill-fitting clothes from her sister's trousseau and hiding from the neighbors the fact that she was not the chosen bride.

Woven into this storyline are Marcia's experiences: cold criticisms, unwanted advances, jealousy and plans for revenge by others, and the return of Marcia's sister, plotting to regain the affections of her former fiancé following her unhappy elopement. "Miranda" by Grace Livingston Hill

Miranda Griscomb"Phoebe Deane" by Grace Livingston Hill

One of the best parts of the book is Marcia's relationship with quirky Miranda Griscomb. She is a matter-of-fact, red-hair-and-freckles neighbor girl who becomes devoted to Marcia, saving her from quite a bit of trouble throughout the book. Her delightful tale continues in the next book, "Phoebe Deane", where she again becomes champion and protector of its heroine, another member of this 19th century community. In the final book, "Miranda", we learn more about her past as she tries to avoid an unpleasant future and stay with the Spaffords.

What will happen to David and Marcia? Will Phoebe Deane be able to slip from Hiram Green's grasp? Will Miranda escape that "slab-sided tombstun of a man" Nathan Whitney? Will true love conquer all? You'll have to read them to find out.

Read at Google Books: Marcia Schuyler | Phoebe Deane


©2017 Daena M. Creel. All rights reserved.