After her father's untimely passing, the decidedly spoilt eighteen year old Eliza Smith learns that he was deeply in debt and the family farm in Pennsylvania must be sold. Eliza finds herself without an income or the skills to earn one—though she is a truly gifted pianist—and she is forced to find work as a hotel maid in Philadelphia.
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The pedigrees of our county families, arranged in diagrams on the pages of county histories, mostly appear at first sight to be as barren of any touch of nature as a table of logarithms. But given a clue—the faintest tradition of what went on behind the scenes, and this dryness as of dust may be transformed into a palpitating drama. More, the…
Not long after arriving at the hotel, Eliza meets a man calling himself Lord William Gibbon of Norton Fitzwarren, who assures her he is an English gentleman. Inexperience and a certain lack of common sense cost Eliza her job at the hotel and she accepts William's kind but ambiguous offer to return with him to England. Once she has crossed the Atlantic, however, William's claims to nobility prove to be greatly exaggerated, and then he is reclaimed by an old lover. Eliza finds herself alone in England with employment prospects even worse than they were in Philadelphia, and this unfortunate state of affairs eventually results in her scrubbing floors at a London hospital with a sore bottom.
But then she meets William's brother Henry, the headmaster of a prestigious school. Romance ensues, and almost before she knows it Eliza and Henry are wed, but soon enough the couple must confront the dire truth that much of the time they struggle to stand one another. The music that matters so much to Eliza seems dark and gothic to Henry, and Eliza is rather less than entirely at home in an English boarding school. It seems, in fact, that there is only one thing they truly share: a fascination with corporal punishment. And that does not seem entirely proper for a headmaster in Victorian England… Will Henry take his young bride over his knee for a bare bottom spanking, and if he does, will it rekindle their passion or will it all end in disgrace and scandal?
Publisher's Note: The Education of Eliza Smith is a novel with a uniquely British style and sense of humour (and perhaps just a touch of the Bernard Shaw plays that are contemporary with the novel's setting) and a story which contains elements of both erotic romance and romantic comedy. It includes depictions of spankings and sexual scenes, so if such material offends you, please don't buy this book.