After the conclusion of a stormy engagement with her reckless and selfish cousin George, Alice Vavasor, a young woman with an independent fortune, engaged herself to a country gentleman, John Grey. The marriage was approved by her father and her highly placed relatives, but George’s sister Kate persuaded her that she was not adapted to the quiet life of the country, and she broke her engagement.
Kate was anxious that Alice should marry George to assist him in a parliamentary career, and she weakly consented to renew her engagement, although with a stipulation that the marriage should he postponed for a year. George’s grandfather, whose death he had been eagerly anticipating, disinherited him, and in his disappointment and anger he demanded that Alice furnish the funds to pay his election bills.
Mr. Grey learned of this and provided £4,000, presumably from Alice’s account. George won the election and took his seat, but shortly after was compelled to contest again and lost. When he learned of Mr.Grey’s intervention, he was so furiously angry that he tried to kill him. Finally, finding himself without friends or funds, he emigrated to America.
"Can You Forgive Her? forms a link uniting Trollope's purely social stories with those which were political as well. Today, Can You Forgive Her? acquires a new interest from the fact of its showing its author as a pioneer of the problem novel, the point of which generally comes to this–how to act in the conflict between passion or self-indulgence and the laws of good behavior."