Knowing his father’s profoundest wish, that his son should succeed him as Rector of Stillwater, Stephen Desmonde tried to be worthy. But the siren call of art was too overwhelming; he felt driven as though by demons to pursue his vision of the world’s beauty. He must put on canvas the truth as he saw it, whatever the cost might be, whether it was the blank misunderstanding of his family or the ridicule of the public. Few artists could have survived the scandal and mockery he had to endure in the sensational trial that stirred all England.
Indeed, Stephen Desmonde himself could not have survived without the tender and understanding love of the unforgettable Jenny Dill, the uneducated but strangely wise little Cockney girl whose devotion kept him going when all else failed. It was Jenny who restored his confidence in himself and his vision, and in her love he found the serenity and peace that marked his greatest creations.
Crusader’s Tomb, also published as A Thing of Beauty, is altogether a memorable novel, whose many characters and diverse moods are woven together with a skill and an appeal mastered by only the greatest storytellers of any age.