These essays comprise the first extensive reappraisal of Charles Lever for over 50 years. Once regarded as the equal of Dickens, Trollope and Thackeray, Lever's public turned their backs on him when he changed style and genre after making his name with comic military tales. He never captured his early popularity, but his later novels in fact manifest a much more serious and crafted approach to fiction and richly deserve revival. Lever's own turbulent and often unhappy life of social and cultural exile in Europe provides the hidden theme of many of his better novels. Continental and Irish settings and preoccupations are juxtaposed, making his contribution to the Anglo-Irish novel an unusual and challenging one. Lever is a shrewd observer of characteroparticularly of female character; few of his better-remembered contemporaries write with more insight about women; old, young, rich, poor; loving, hating, dominating, subjected. His eye for place is acute; Scott is his model, but Lever's ability to correlate character with environment is finely developed. His political observations are shrewd and balanced.