Like many second sons, Hartley decides to migrate to Jamaica at the age of 23. This at first seems sensible: in the early 1800s Jamaica was the richest and most opulent of all the crown colonies, and the greatest producer of sugar in the world. But for all its wealth, Jamaica was an inhospitable place for an immigrant. The complex saga of Hartley's life is revealed in vivid scenes that depict the fluctuations of 19th-century English and Jamaican societies. The Family Mansion transports readers to exotic lands and explores the brutality of England's slavery-based colonization.