The Romance of the Forest

by Ann Radcliffe

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Romance of the Forest is the wandering story of Pierre de la Motte and Adeline. Pierre is running from his debt and takes his wife south. While on the road, his coachman gets lost, and they must stop at a house that has lights on. When Pierre knocks on the door for directions, they come to find out that a young woman is being held against her will inside. Pierre saves her, and she joins the family on their journey.

They come to a town where Pierre finds an abandoned and secluded abbey. The family is told that the abbey is haunted and never visited. This reassures Pierre that they can live without interruption there. However, Pierre’s mood at the abbey sways greatly. He is mostly depressed and is only made happy by Adeline. We come to learn that Adeline was born into a very wealthy family. However, when she refused to marry, her father sent her to the house where Pierre saved her. In Pierre’s fit of isolation, he explores different parts of the abbey. He discovers a skeleton and doesn’t tell his family.

Louise, Pierre’s son, joins the family and falls for Adeline. However, the feelings are not reciprocated, and Pierre’s wife starts to dislike Adeline. This causes Adeline to spend as much time as possible away from the abbey. While in the forest, she encounters a respectful young man. When she returns to the abbey, someone loudly knocks on the door. She faints and wakes to find the man she saw in the woods, Theodore Peyrou. He is accompanied by the owner of the abbey, Marquis de Montalt. The Marquis seems to befriend Pierre, and the two talk at length. He returns to the abbey regularly. Adeline falls in love with Theodore during their visits.

One night, the Marquis has plans to stay for the night. Adeline overhears his plan to take her. She asks Pierre for help, but he refuses. Adeline also finds out why the abbey is haunted. She discovers a note from a past prisoner of the Marquis. The coachman, Peter, agrees to help Adeline escape. Theodore flees with her.

During their escape, they are stopped by officers of the king. Theodore suffers an injury, and the Marquis orders that he be caught for treason. The Marquis orders Pierre to kill Adeline. Pierre is unable to do so and sends her with Peter. At this time, Pierre is sentenced to prison for robbing the Marquis.

After escaping, Adeline befriends Arnaud and Clara la Luc. It turns out that Theodore is really the son of Arnaud. The plot resolves when Thoedore’s charges are dropped. Pierre is exiled from England. Adeline and Theodore marry.

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