I keep trying and failing to come up with a real life corollary to the dilemma faced by the main character in this book.
The story revolves around the Fitzgerald family of Castle Richmond. The oldest son's legitimacy to inherit his father's estate and title is called into question, and the book examines the impact on him, his family, his betrothed, and his cousin - the man who would take the estate if the oldest son were not allowed to inherit.
It is hard for me to imagine how it must feel to be a man whose whole life has been directed by the expectation that he would inherit an estate and be a country gentleman - and is then faced with the prospect of making his way in the world, finding a job, etc. I really liked this book, especially as it picked up steam toward the middle/end and found it fascinating.