Told with humor and compassion, Deerbrook prefigures the later Victorian novels of Elizabeth Gaskell, the Brontës, and George Eliot. When the Ibbotson sisters, Hester and Margaret, arrive at the village of Deerbrook to stay with their cousin Mr. Grey and his wife, speculation is rife that one of them might marry the local apothecary, Edward Hope. Although he is immediately attracted to Margaret, Hope is ultimately persuaded to marry the beautiful Hester and becomes trapped in an unhappy marriage. His troubles are compounded when a malicious village gossip accuses Hope of grave-robbing, threatening his career. A powerful exploration of the nature of ignorance and prejudice, Deerbrook also may be regarded as one of the first Victorian novels of English domestic life.