Marcella is a somewhat chunky VMC, but immensely readable - I was daunted by its size but was immediately gripped in following the life and dilemmas of the young woman in the 1880s. Following early years spent in a boarding school (where she wasn't exactly a model pupil; she used sometimes to be sent to bed by the teachers which was especially punishing as those in bed during the day were considered to be ill, and were not permitted to take their arms out of the bedclothes, allowing them to read!), we meet her as a 21 year old art student, living in London and trying to work out her socialist ideals. But as the book opens, her father inherits the family estate, Mellor Park, located very near to Oxford (I loved the mentions of various south Oxfordshire villages which I know!) and Marcella moves to join her family. At first this fits with her idealist views; she can work with the poor who live around the estate to try to alleviate their poverty. But then she falls in love with the Tory Aldous Raeburn who is set to inherit the nearby estate of Maxwell Court. Marcella becomes torn between wanting to live up to her principles and to marry Aldous and become mistress at Maxwell. The rest of the book describes what happens after that, so as usual, I don't want to go on and spoil the plot!
I found Marcella an extremely likeable young lady and the book gave a good insight into the world of the 1880s for privileged ladies; she seems to have been quite well done by for the period having the opportunity to pursue her own desires rather than being constrained by the period as is often a feature of this date.
It's the only novel by Mrs Humphrey Ward published by Virago; although she wrote a number of novels the rest seem to have long vanished into obscurity. And this novel was published only the once with an original green cover.