In sum this is a story of a young man (Evan) who teases a young lady (Elaine) because he secretly likes her. He makes jokes about the way that she laughs. The jokes catch on, and soon everyone in London society is laughing at Elaine, thus humiliating her, chipping away at her self esteem, and ruining her prospects of finding a husband. Ten years later, Evan has long since come to feel great remorse for the way he treated Elaine and hopes to make amends, as well as to win her heart.
I think the pain of being teased and ostracized is something many people can relate to. I certainly can. An equal number of people can recall becoming (unintentionally) the instigator of such pain, and the need to atone for it. So this is a touching story from all angles. I liked and connected with Elaine and Evan. This is a wonderful and sweet little love story.
Now, as to the reason I am giving this story 4 stars instead of 5. It is a detail that is a spoiler of sorts and is more specific than I would normally mention in a review. I found it pretty glaring, though, so I have included it bellow. Highlight to read:
Elaine's distress at being teased about her laugh ran so deep that she became determined to change it. This process involved having a maid tell her jokes and hold her head under water every time she laughed her laugh. This obviously unwise course of action ultimately leads to her inhaling a ton of water and becoming ill for days. This is the sort of dramatic and dangerous behavior one might expect from a bullied teenager, not a grown woman of at least 20. Age distinctions aside, this made me very seriously doubt the judgement and stability of our heroine. It tainted for me what was otherwise an uplifting story of overcoming social isolation.
So, aside from it's one flaw, I was very touched by this little story and would highly recommend it. 4 stars.