Thomas Wingfold is a curate who was brought up in the church but has never really considered what his beliefs are. When he is challenged by a cynical university man, George Bascombe, to prove that Christ even lived, he realizes he can’t do it. This sends him into a crisis of faith, during which he tries to form his own beliefs.
Helen Lingard is George’s cousin, a young woman who is described as someone who has never thought before. George comes to believe he can mold her thought to match his, in which case she might make a wonderful wife. However, Helen finds she needs someone to turn to when her beloved brother, Leopold, returns home in desperate trouble. After the curate begins preaching more heart-felt sermons about his search, she decides to confide in him.
This novel, written in 1876, is part of a trilogy called The Curate of Glaston, and it is meant to have a spiritual message. As such, it wasn’t a good choice for me, especially as it goes into great detail about Thomas’s conversations with his mentor and his sermons. It is perfectly readable, though, if you are interested in such a subject. I was, in fact, interested to find out what happened to Helen and Leopold, but although I tried very hard to finish this book, I couldn’t.