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Storytelling is an essential part of any legal case. This text explores sentimentality as both a literary genre and a rhetorical strategy in the novels and courtrooms of late-19th-century and early-20th-century America. It focuses on ""criminal conversations"", the civil tort whereby a man sues his wife's lover for damages to his property rights from the adultery. The author argues that literary discourse used in the courtroom, affects the outcomes of legal cases. She shows how lawyers used sentimentality strategically to guide juries in reaching verdicts, tracks the legal fictions that were part of the civil tort of adultery, and examines the series of decisions that decided whether women could bring criminal conversation cases against their husband's female lovers.;Using a variety of sources, the book aims to explore the intersections of gender, genre, law and story, revealing the ways in which the courtroom became a site of empowerment for women at the turn of the 20th century.