Affairs of Love
by Nicola Thorne, historical fiction first published by Doubleday, 1984. UK
From Kirkus (April 27, 1984):
The ""unsuitable"" careers of two late-Victorian sisters--medicine and the theater--muddle their love lives and estrange them from parents; but both soldier on through a mine-field of set-backs and misunderstandings--in this sobersides, thick-ankled romance/career odyssey. Lindsey Abercrombie is the bluestocking sister, who turns down a promising suitor to study at the London School of Medicine for Women. Estella is the beauty lured early-on into dramatics, through the amateur theatricals staged by fledgling playwright Raynor Brook. Raynor and Estella are volatile sorts, inclined to spat; Estella flounces off to join a touring company, headed by handsome Tom Shipley, a student of the great Irving; the two, soon awash in desire and grappling hands, marry--but Tom's rather a brute, the company disbands, and pregnant Estella learns that Tom's a bigamist. Meanwhile, Lindsey declines to marry, being devoted to her work; she also declines the advances of devoted housemate Charlotte--who must be satisfied with a platonic adoration. But then, while Estella is leaving her daughter Ellen with a miserable Charlotte, Lindsey decides to wed nice Dr. Mortimer Digby from Boston--a matter of friendship and convenience. And, after an unhappy sojourn with Digby's blueblood family in Boston, Lindsey's off to hear Professor Charcot's Paris lectures on diseases of the nervous system. . . and to meet, of course, that fascinating Dr. Freud! Eventually, then, in treatment to discover why she dislikes sex, Lindsey has a heavy case of transference as she and Sigmund plow together through her infant past: ""The thought of him was comforting, troubling, very exciting, like being in love."" But what of Estella, you ask? Well, she's now a notable courtesan in Paris and a rotten mother--until her better instincts resurface in a Taylor-Burton-ish reunion/triumph. . . while Lindsey and Digby find a serene life of love and work. Dotted with pale celebrity cameos and period medical lore: rather dogged, hefty and hard-working fare from the author of Cashmere, Sisters and Lovers, etc.