One of those Made in England stories long on bloodlines and antiquity and less mindful of the inner life of characters caught up in a plot-driven tale of love, greed, and a Great House. As the Germans advance across France, British diplomat Charles Veryan, French-born wife Monique, and their ten-year-old daughter Jennie barely escape alive when the ship they board to cross the Channel is bombed and Charles is badly burned. Safe in England at Trevellan, the ancient Veryan estate in Cornwall, Jennie and Monique try to adjust to their new surroundings while Charles recovers. Grandfather Philip is gruff and displeased by Monique's failure to produce a male heir, grandmother Florence is kind and wise, but Aunt Laura and obnoxious son Clive—who have designs on the estate and are accordingly the designated villains of the story—are malicious and spiteful. Charles gets well but insists to everyone's surprise on setting off immediately for Singapore, which he reaches just as the Japanese arrive, so that he is soon feared dead. Monique joins the French Resistance to assuage her grief and dies a heroine's death in France; Jennie is consoled by her friendship with Mark Curnow, the estate manager's son; and Laura's machinations to have Clive recognized as Trevellan's heir accelerate. The scene is set for decades of obligatory misunderstandings; uncovering of dark secrets; and loves found, lost and refound, as plucky Jennie tries to locate her father, still alive in Singapore but an amnesiac with some unsettling secrets; rescues Trevellan from the auction block as Clive begins selling off the family treasures; and extricates herself from her unhappy marriage to test-pilot Guy so that she can be with her true love Mark. All ends well, of course, as houses and hearts find love and redemption. Romance fiction with Masterpiece Theatre gloss.
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