Short summary - Hatter's Castle
Archibald Joseph Cronin
The action takes place in the 1880s. in the small Scottish town of Leavenford. In the house of bizarre architecture, the project of which was developed by James Brody himself, there are: an elderly mother of the head of the family, for whom the only entertainment is food, his wife Margaret, a life-weary woman, daughters Nancy (an excellent student, whose father will have a great future) and Mary (daring and decisive girl, forced to quit her education to help her mother around the house), the son of Matthew, whom his father is going to send to India, and the owner himself. James Brody, the owner of a hat store, enjoys fame and influence in the city, mainly due to his wealthy customers. This is a cruel and imperious person, despising all those whom he considers below himself. He is strict with his family, and sometimes even cruel. So, he forbade Mary to go to the annual fair - he became aware of her meetings with Denis Foyle, an Irish descent and salesman of one of the trading companies, and he wants to put an end to this acquaintance. However, in violation of his ban, Mary still goes to the fair. There, he and Danis ride a merry-go-round, watch a performance in a fair booth, and then go to the riverbank. Fascinated by the young charm of Mary, Denise takes possession of her, and the innocent girl does not even understand what really happened. Full of passion, the young man makes her an offer. However, both understand that soon it is impossible to register a marriage - Denis must first get on his feet and acquire his own home. The expectation is so long that Mary, to her surprise, begins to discover strange changes in her figure. Not knowing what to think she goes to the doctor, who tells her that she is pregnant. Mary tells Denis about this, asking to expedite the wedding. Denise decides to ask Brody for her hands, but he tries to hit him. The young man manages to dodge, and instead of Denis Brody hits the wall, as a result of which he painfully hits his hand. Enraged, he puts Mary under house arrest.
Mary is desperate - she is on the verge of suicide and is ready to take poison, when he suddenly receives a note from Denis, in which he writes that he has already rented a small house and soon they will be able to move there. Then Mary throws out the poison, but feels that something strange is happening to her. Her stomach is unbearably painful. She is hiding from home in her room, but suddenly her mother comes to her. For the first time, a woman notices a daughter’s swollen belly and understands everything. In vain Mary asks her not to say anything to her father - brought up in hypocritical morality and dreading her husband to death, Mrs. Brody gives out her daughter. Brody hardly restrains herself so as not to beat up the unfortunate Mary, but in the end she just throws her outside.
In the courtyard night, a storm; the wind screams terribly, lightning sparkles. Mary, in one dress, wanders through the forest. After long wanderings in the forest, she finally goes to the river, but suddenly stumbles and falls into the water. Miraculously, she manages to escape, but she immediately falls into the swamp, barely seeing the light of housing. In the end, Mary gets out of the blue and hardly wanders to the house. She is afraid of people, so she gets into the stable, where she gives birth to a boy.
The hostess accidentally enters the stable and discovers Mary who has lost consciousness. She calls a doctor, and the unfortunate girl is taken to the nearest hospital,
Meanwhile, Denis travels on assignment to a remote Scottish town. When his train passes a shaky, half-rotten bridge, the supports cannot stand it, and the train falls into the abyss. Denise is dying.
Some time later, Brody has a conversation with the famous city gossip Grirson, from whom he learns that the child Mary died in the hospital. A large part in the fate of Mary took Dr. Renwick; Denis's parents helped her get a job as a maid in London. But Brody doesn’t seem to care: he disowned his daughter and does not want to hear about her, despite her misfortune. With gloating he thinks about the death of Foyle.
Soon, Brody learns that in the near future, next to his shop, a large haberdashery store Manjo & K will open, which will also sell hats. Brody's clerk Peter Perry invites the owner to innovate in the trade, but he is self-confident and does not want to hear anything. However, the window dressing of neighbors, beautiful mannequins and other advertising tricks make the Manjo store a serious competitor, and soon all Brody's customers will go there. To top it all, Perry also goes there, disappointed with the boring, uninteresting work of the rude and ungrateful Brody. And although Brody's financial situation has been greatly shaken, he continues to be rude to customers. His affairs are getting worse and worse.
But Brody's main trouble is yet to come. At home, he learns that Matthew is returning ahead of time from India. There are rumors in the city that he does this not of his own free will - he was fired for poor work. Soon Margaret Brody receives a telegram from his son, where he asks to send him forty pounds. The fact is that within eight months he sent his mother five pounds to keep them, but due to the difficult financial situation of the family, she spent this money. To get forty pounds, she has to turn to money-lenders, and they lend her money at high interest rates. The unfortunate woman refuses herself everything, having difficulty paying interest, and dries before her eyes.
Matthew is returning. He has changed a lot; He sleeps until noon, dines in the city, extort money from his mother, and when he cannot get it, he steals the family clock. It turns out that with the bride Agnes, he behaves no better. After talking with her, Margaret experiences an attack of illness that has long tormented her.
Having won a large sum of money in billiards, Mat goes to a brothel. Bursting into a room, he meets a pretty girl there and begins to pester her, when Brody suddenly appears. A girl named Nancy, the waitress of one of the city cafes, is waiting for him. A fight ensues; Matt shoots his father, but misses.
Mrs. Brody, meanwhile, begins an unbearable pain. The doctor diagnoses cancer. She had no more than six months left to live. She offers to write Mary to come to run the household, but Brody sharply objects.
After some time, Brody realizes that he is completely ruined. Upon learning of this, Margaret Brody dies.
To feed his family, Brody enters the shipyard of the local rich man Sir John Latt. He introduces Nancy into the house as a housekeeper, but she is not able to housekeeping like the late Mrs. Brody did. In addition, she wants to get married and is unhappy with her current situation. The house is ruined. Brody drinks, and Nancy begins to pay more attention to Matthew. He reciprocates her, and she hopes that he will marry her.
Seeing the complete collapse of his own career, Brody now puts all his hopes on his youngest daughter, forcing her to study through her strength to get a university scholarship. Exhausted by malnutrition and constant pursuit, Nessie writes to Mary, begging her to return.
Soon a letter arrives from Mary, where she asks her father for forgiveness. He was about to write a harsh answer when he suddenly found out that Nancy had fled with Mat to South America. He had no choice but to agree to the arrival of his eldest daughter.
After a four-year absence, Mary returns to Leavenford. Concerned about her sister's condition, she turns to Dr. Renwick, who once saved her life. He happily comes to her aid - he has long been secretly in love with her. As if by chance examining Nessie, the doctor finds a girl with severe nervous exhaustion.
However, Brody does not allow her daughter to rest: in the house everything is now subordinated to the struggle for a scholarship. Out of fear of her father, Nesse is afraid to admit to feeling unwell and continues to work hard. However, she does not get a scholarship. Upon learning of this, Nessie goes crazy and hangs herself in the setting of despair.
Returning home, Mary discovers a sister in a noose and calls Dr. Renwick. He understands that Mary should be taken away from this house as soon as possible. He declares her love and makes an offer. They fall into each other's arms.
At this point, Brody returns from work. He accuses the doctor and Mary of adultery, but the doctor points him to the fragile body of Nessie. «Nessie hanged herself because you didn’t receive a scholarship, and you are the culprit of her death,» he says, after which he and Mary leave this house forever. And then Brody realizes the horror of his situation: he realizes that he was left alone with a half-mad mother , which, like everyone else, is afraid of him to death.