The Perpetual Curate by Margaret Oliphant
Frank Wentworth, Perpetual Curate of St Roque's, has basked in the popularity of Carlingford, beloved in the gracious homes of Grange Lane and the slums of Wharfside alike. But there are some among the sober-minded citizens who would see him as a 'dilettante Anglican, given over to floral ornaments and ecclesiastical upholstery' - a verdict shared by the new Rector who regards the presence of a young and energetic rival as an intolerable encumbrance. Imperceptibly, the tide starts turning against Frank Wentworth: his love for Lucy Wodehouse is threatened by his lack of prospects; his Evangelical aunts, in charge of a family living, disapprove of his high church ways, and rumours about a pretty shopgirl begin circulating. Slowly it dawns on Frank that he may well be doomed to a life of perpetual - and single - curacy.