This 1845 novel ("novel") by the not-very-prolific Catholic author Mary C. Edgar is not remarkable in and of itself: our protagonist, Jane Swinton, leaves her ultra-Protestant Scottish aunt's house to spend four months with her cousin Elinor, who, along with her mother, had converted to Roman Catholicism. Jane, under pressure to marry a Mr. Robert Scott, nevertheless remains with cousin Elinor and, as one might expect, learns all about Catholicism; in the meantime, Scott's father preys on Jane's aunt until she agrees to leave him all her property. Not a nice chap. The novel ends with a spectacular deus ex machina (actually, we're supposed to read it as divine providence in action): a lawyer crops up, informs Jane that her aunt could not alienate the property in this fashion, and then...the book ends, before Jane gets around to converting. Instead, the novel leaves Jane on the brink of her spiritual transformation, promising instead that "perhaps, at some future time, I may describe the method she pursued, and relate the result of her examination" (108). This was not a good plan on the novelist's part, as the world clearly did not demand a sequel.
However, A Catholic Story is a good example of why making pat literary-historical generalizations can be a bad idea. ("A Catholic Story: Or, Why Literary Historians Need to Read Lots of Stuff.") One of the formal problems facing Catholic novelists who wanted to write religious fiction was the influence of the Protestant model, which emphasized prooftexting, transformative individual encounters with Biblical texts, and so forth. That is, Protestant religious fiction often dramatizes conversion in terms of a largely private quest for spiritual transformation--the characters may argue with each other, but the religious Big Bang normally comes when the characters are alone in a quiet room with only their Bible for company. And the Bible in Protestant fiction glosses itself, so that outside authorities are unnecessary; anyone who reads the Bible with the aid of the Holy Spirit will understand it. Catholic novelists, for obvious reasons, had problems with this strategy, and frequently attacked it (arguing that it's difficult to interpret the Bible, that prooftexting is incoherent, and so forth). So from the late 1820s to early 1840s, we see Catholic novelists attempting to figure out ways of countering Protestant claims without simply inverting Protestant narrative strategies (you say prooftext tomato, I say prooftext to-mah-to). Edgar, though, goes the inversion route: A Catholic Story consists almost entirely of prooftexts, just deployed on the Catholic instead of the Protestant side. In that sense, it's very close to one of the earliest Catholic controversial novels, Charles Constantine Pise's Father Rowland (1829), which Edgar could have seen after it was reprinted in Dublin in the late 1830s. But A Catholic Story is also very out of step with a trend visible by 1837, in which Catholic novelists simply refuse to prooftext and instead emphasize exemplary behavior, miracles, and/or the experience of the Mass. A Catholic Story does feature divine intervention (a prophetic dream, for example), exemplarity (Elinor's good behavior after her conversion), and an influential Mass (participating in ritual reorients the mind), but most of the book is prooftexts.