First published by Bentley in 1870, Petronel is a slight reworking of Nelly Brooke, this time with a benevolent doctor marrying a vulnerable and much younger woman.
The Athenaeum described it as a “slight but ably-written story”, clearly rejoicing in the lack of Marryat’s customary sensational elements. The Saturday Review gave it qualified praise, but was highly critical of Marryat’s misuse of metaphor, commenting that this was a weakness amongst lady novelists. The reviewer was also appalled by Petronel’s apparent fecundity, suggesting that two children would have sufficed, rather than six. Although pleased the novel concluded with a happy marriage, it was clearly unseemly for it to be that happy.