In Excess

Love in Excess; Or, The Fatal Enquiry

Love in Excess (1719-1720) is, next to The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless (1754), Eliza Haywood's best known novel. It details the amorous escapades of Count D'Elmont, a rake who becomes reformed over the course of the novel.


The first part details the competition between Alovisa and Amena - two young upper-class women - for D'Elmont's attentions. Alovisa's machinations inadvertently lead D'Elmont to fall in love with Amena and proceed to nearly rape her as she tries to defend her honor. Alovisa's servant intervenes, and D'Elmont decides to marry Alovisa for her ample fortune.

Part the Second details D'Elmont's falling in "true" love with Melliora, a girl entrusted in his care. D'Elmont ends up nearly raping the loving but resisting Melliora; meanwhile, D'Elmont's friend the Baron falls in love with D'Elmont's wife Alovisa. A climactic scene leads to the death of the Baron and Alovisa and D'Elmont's self-exile.

D'Elmont ends up in Italy in Part the Third, endlessly yearning for Melliora - who in the meantime has been kidnapped from the convent to which she was sent after Part the Second. In Italy, D'Elmont happens to meet Frankville, Melliora's brother. D'Elmont helps Frankville flee Italy with his forbidden love Camilla; the two women in Italy who have fallen in love with D'Elmont (Ciamara, the lusty "bad" woman; and Violetta, the chaste "good" woman) both end up dead. The survivors - D'Elmont and Melliora; Frankville and Camilla; Melliora's kidnapper and Charlotta, a girl he loved before Melliora - all marry.

Love in Excess was a huge bestseller in its time.

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