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Rachel Ray Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Rachel Ray


A young village girl grows up in a religious environment she finds oppressive and is forced to break up with her love under family pressure from her mother and sister, but ultimately love prevails over intolerance and close-minded suspicion. The protagonist, Rachel, is a young, middle-class woman of very limited means who lives in a village cottage with her widowed mother and her widowed sister, Dorothea. Rachel is young and spry, but her life is one of dreary, repetitive hard work, loneliness as she lacks much company her own age, and is weighed down by her mother and sister. Rachel's mother is kind and sweet, and tries to make sure everyone gets along, but she is cowed down by her daughter Dorothea. Dorothea is a bitter and religious widow who bans music, dancing, loud laughter, rich food, or any manner of earthly or material pleasure, because that's how she interprets Christianity. She is not a mean or unpleasant woman, but she casts a certain greyness over Rachel's life.
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Things begin to change as Luke arrives into Rachel's life like a breath of fresh air. Luke is young, handsome, vigorous and educated. He is a visitor from London, who wishes to try his hand at beer-making and came to Devon to buy a brewery. Lissome, demure Rachel catches his eye in the village one day, and they begin a romance. Their courtship is quite innocent and proper, but the widows are suspicious of any gaiety or happiness in Rachel's life, and wonder if Luke has honorable intentions. The rest of the village is fond of Rachel, and the postmistress, the vicar and a neighbor all convince the widows to allow Rachel to marry Luke.

Luke is the opposite of everything Rachel has experienced in life so far. There is no religious intolerance or judgmental behavior from him. Luke is fun-loving, kind, protective, sympathetic and loves to laugh and make Rachel laugh. When Luke proposes, Rachel's mother and sister give their blessing, and Rachel happily becomes engaged to Luke. She anticipates Luke buying the brewery now, but the owner of the brewery refuses to sell the brewery to Luke on hearing rumors that Luke has not paid some outstanding debts in London and is not in a sound financial position. When Luke returns to get a lawyer, Rachel's family begin to speculate that maybe it was other commitments that called him back to London, such as another woman, or they speculate whether his purported financial troubles arose from gambling problems. Rachel is impatient with their suspicions and steadfastly loyal to Luke, and this causes bitter arguments in the Ray cottage, with Rachel's love for Luke making her stand steady against her mother and sister. Both Rachel's mother and sister urge her to break off the engagement, citing religious virtue and the sins of money and greed and temptation to indulge in earthly pleasures as reasons not to marry an unworthy man.

They are joined in these efforts to convince Rachel by the dour and pious pastor, Samuel, who tells Rachel that she should marry a more religious man. Samuel does not refer to himself when he says this, since he has his eyes set on Dorothea and sees her as an appropriately religious and right-thinking woman to marry. However, Dorothea refuses to hand over control of her finances to him, or indeed be controlled by him in any way, and so refuses his proposal of marriage and leaves him bitter and confused. The pressure finally gets to Rachel and she miserably caves in, writing to Luke to cancel her engagement, and retreats to her room, sobbing miserably as she mourns Luke.

Meanwhile, Luke returns, having satisfied the brewery owner's misgivings with a report from his bank, and the sale goes through. Rachel and Luke reconcile at once, Luke not harboring any ill will and his love for Rachel as strong as ever. Rachel and Luke marry in the village chapel happily, and move into the brewery house together.
Best part of story, including ending: I liked getting an inside glimpse into the lives and minds of bitter, unfulfilled, frustrated Victorian women, and I'm amazed we saw it from a male author's perspective.

Best scene in story: When Rachel's mother and sister inquire as to how Luke intended to support Rachel and then talked about the evils of alcohol when learning he wants to buy a brewery. It reminded me of the American Puritans and Prohibition.

Opinion about the main character: I initially disliked how passive Rachel, but now I realize that is realistic given how she was brought up, and I like that she stood up for herself later.

The review of this Book prepared by Princess Peach a Level 10 Peregrine Falcon scholar

Chapter Analysis of Rachel Ray

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   humorous Time/era of story    -   ancient England/Scotland/Ireland Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Lover is    -   of a different religion

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   homemaker Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   British

Setting

Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK

Writing Style

Weird Victorian/Shakespearean English?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Anthony Trollope Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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