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Before dying just after childbirth Margaret Rowly's husband Norman promises her that he will love their daughter as much as he would have loved a son, which he wanted more than a daughter. As a result he names the girl Stephen and raises her as a boy.
Eight years later a friend of Norman dies leaving his son Harold, 11 years old, an orphan. Norman promises to raise Harold as if he were his own son along side his tomboy daughter.
This gothic romance by Bram Stoker is considered a classic of western literature