A Damsel in Distress Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Damsel in Distress

American composer George Bevan finds himself embroiled in a comedy of errors and mistaken identities when he falls in love with an aristocratic young Englishwoman. George Bevan is an American composer in London working on a musical. He is about to get into a taxicab when a pretty young woman hops in instead and he falls for her hard.
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The book opens on Lord Marshmoreton working in his castle garden, browned from the sun and looking very much like the gardener rather than the aristocrat he actually his. He is a widower in his late forties and has two children, Percy and Maud, twenty one and twenty respectively. He lives with his sister, Lady Caroline Byng and her stepson Reggie.

Lady Caroline believes Reggie and Maud are destined to marry, but Reggie only has eyes for Lord Marhmoreton's secretary Alice. She is helping his lordship write a book on the history of the family, a task he finds tedious and would prefer to ignore in favor of gardening.

Lady Caroline pushes Reggie to propose soon, since Percy's coming of age party is in a few days and things will be too hectic. Reggie points out that Maud is in love with an American man she met the previous summer but Lady Caroline dismisses the notion.

In fact Maud has heard that the man is back in London, and she asks Reggie for help sneaking out, she is forbidden to leave precisely because of her infatuation even though a year has passed.

George is feeling unaccountably miserable despite rave reviews, and wandering in London when he sees a pretty girl. He briefly daydreams about how he could love a girl like that, then hails a cab to return to his hotel. He is surprised when the pretty girl in question hops in right behind him and asks him to help her hide.

He hides her and immediately a man shows up and demands that he turn her over. George denies there is any girl in his cab and when the man tries to force his way in George knocks his hat off, distracting him long enough to hop in the cab and make his escape. There is altercation and the strange man, who George is shocked to learn is the girl's brother, is arrested in the fracas.

George wakes up the next day in love with the mysterious girl, and is pleased to find a note from her at the front desk apologizing for the incident. He is also happy to find a newpaper report of the altercation that mentions Percy's full name, and uses that information to find out Maud's name as well and the Marshmoreton castle address.

George travels to the nearest town, Belpher village and finds out the castle is five miles up the road, and open to the public for tours on Thursdays. Since he has to wait till then he decides to rent a cottage closer to the castle.

On Thursday George goes in with a tour group and is surprised to see Billie Dore, a chorus girl with the company he works for. He and Billie are good friends, and the two take to chatting, Billie wondering where on earth George has been the last few days.

She and George split off from the group and wander into the garden. Billie spots a gardener tending the roses and starts chatting with him, being an avid gardener herself. George writes a note for Maud in duplicate for safety and gives a copy to the gardener asking him to pass it on, and another to a nearby pageboy.

Maud receives the note, which tells her where George is staying. The gardeners was of course Lord Marshmoreton, and he shows his copy to Lady Caroline and Percy. He was more amused than anything, but they are both horrified. There is also some confusion, since George is American they believe he is also the man whom Maud is in love with from the previous summer.

George meets Reggie while playing golf and the two hit it off. However as they chat Reggie realizes who George is. Also thinking he is the original American he mentions Maud is in love with him, pleasing but confusing George. He tells George about his own love troubles with Alice and George gives him some advice for wooing her.

At home Reggie admits he met George and knows where he is staying, so Lady Caroline sends Lord Marshmoreton to talk to him. His lordship readily agrees since he also wants to get Billie's address from George. The two hit it off and George waxes poetic about how great Billie is. Reluctantly Lord Marshmoreton still insists George is unsuitable for Maud.

Maud arranges a meeting with George, hoping to pass a note to her original American, and is shocked when he takes her in his arms. After some confusion George tells her that Reggie said she was in love with him. Maud realizes the confusion and explains. George is heartbroken but agrees to take the letter anyway, wanting her to be happy.

Meanwhile Reggie musters his courage and proposes to Alice, running off to London with her to get married right away. He asks George to be his best man. Lord Marshmoreton goes with them, mainly to see Billie again, and Billie casually mentions that George is very wealthy from his music royalties, removing one of the obstacles against his match with Maud.

WIth Alice off on her honeymoon Lord needs a new secretary and asks Billie, who agrees. They all head back to the castle for dinner, where George turns out to be well liked by most of the other guests. Impulsively Lord Marshmoreton rises to his feet to propose a toast, and announces that Maud and George are engaged, still under the misapprehension that George is the American Maud has been in love with for a year.

Lady Caroline is aghast and argues with Lord Marshmoreton, saying nice as nice as the fellow is Maud obviously cannot marry him. She suggests it would be like Percy marring Billie. Lord Marshmoreton blushes and admits that would be impossible, since he himself married her in secret while in London with Reggie and Alice.

Maud and George sneak off, stunned by the announcement. He tells her she needs to follow her brother's example and just elope. She thanks him and goes to London to do just that but while waiting for her lover she starts having second thoughts. She hasn't seen him in a year, and she has become very close to George.

They have tea together and Maud finds he is not as she remembered. He pouts and says he's seen her engagement announcement and before she can explain the error they are interrupted by a man who hands him a notice a summons for a breach of contract marriage proposal to another woman. Horrified but also relieved, Maud ditches him and runs off to call George.

George is in his room packing to return to the US when the phone rings, it's Maud who tells him the engagement is now on for real.
Best scene in story: When George sneaks into the castle posing as a waiter there are some hilarious moments, including when Reggie see's him and asks him if he has a twin brother. George's polite dissembling confuses poor Reggie terribly.

Opinion about the main character: George is funny and sweet, and even his melancholy at the start and when he thinks he's lost Maud are sketched in a way that make him seem quite sensible.

The review of this Book prepared by Maria Nunez a Level 11 Prairie Warbler scholar

Chapter Analysis of A Damsel in Distress

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   humorous Time/era of story    -   1900-1920's Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Kind of romance:    -   fighting matchbreaker (parents/authorities) Lover is    -   of a different social class

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   artist Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   2 () Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK Misc setting    -   fancy mansion

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript

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