Number of pages: 624
At first I wasn't too sure about this book, as it felt very slow-moving, and seemed to be mostly about the love triangle between the eponymous Adam, his love Hetty and Arthur Donnithorne, who Hetty has fallen for. At times, it felt a bit too long, with its detailed descriptions of events (including dinner parties).
However, the book did get more exciting in the second half, when most of the drama started, including a scene where Adam discovered that Hetty was in love with Arthur and reacted violently.
The book then took a dark and shocking turn and, although I had read about the real-life incident that inspired this, I didn't think this would really happen in this book, and then it did.
[Spoiler (click to open)]
After Arthur has broken off his relationship with Hetty by way of a letter, she becomes engaged to Adam, but promptly runs away. We are told a few chapters later that Hetty was pregnant with a baby that was evidently Arthur's.
The real shock comes when Hetty ends up being executed, for the murder of her baby. When I read about her getting a death sentence, I did think that maybe she would escape somehow, but this never happened. Hetty is simply killed off. It seemed a bit of an unconventional way to do things, when most of the story had been about Adam's relationship with her.
Hetty dies at the end of the book's penultimate part, before the final part moves towards and inevitable romance between Adam and Hetty's friend Dinah. The final part felt a bit overly long, and less dramatic than what had come before.
Overall, I found this book reasonably enjoyable, just not quite as good as The Mill on the Floss, which I had previously read. It did take a while to get into, but I found it very easy to care about both Adam and Hetty.
Next book: The X-Files: Goblins (Charles Grant)