Books by Sara Hylton

Released: Oct. 13, 1995

British novelist Hylton's 14th output (Shadow of the Nile, 1994, etc.) is light on history and heavy on histrionics as its insipid heroine weathers the horrors of WW II with a decided lack of common sense. Shy Joanna Albemarle is the only child of a passive-aggressive mother (with whose parents the family lives) and a weak-willed father who works for the British government. The girl's life will change overnight, however, when her maternal grandmother dies, her grandfather quickly remarries, and her father's job forces her parents to relocate to Singapore. Joanna is sent to live at Reckmireher father's parents' home on the coast. There, her cousins, the boyish Robin and the half-Italian Gabriella (along with Paul Cheviot, Robin's mysterious friend), make lasting impressions on the sheltered Joanna. Later, after her parents decide to divorce, her father returns from the Far East to take Joanna to Italy to visit Gabriella's family. The trip proves to be the last time Joanna sees her father alive; it is also when she becomes enamored of Carlo, to whom Gabriella is practically engaged. Enter the war: Joanna's father is taken captive, then killed; then, largely to escape her bitter mother, Joanna joins the Wrens and moves to London, where she has a brief but life-altering affair with Robin, who is also killed during the war. When her grandparents die and bequeath Reckmire to Joanna, Paul reappears in her life. Mistakenly assuming that Paul loves her and not just Reckmire, she marries him and signs over half of the manor, and for years remains locked in a loveless marriage. By the close, though, Joanna will find bittersweet happiness and say goodbye to Reckmireher greatest blessing and her greatest curseforever. Fast-moving, but with a hollow ring throughout. Read full book review >
Released: July 19, 1994

In this historical romance, an intriguing idea is diminished by clichÇd writing and a main character who is at first witless and insensitive and then almost lifeless. Hylton (Summer of the Flamingoes, 1991, etc.) starts out auspiciously with the story of Laura Levinson-Gore. In the 1920s, fresh out of finishing school, this daughter of a social-climbing American mother and a British father sails from England to Egypt with her mother and younger sister. On board she meets Egyptian prince Ahmed Hassan Farag, an Oxford graduate returning home. The two share a few kisses, but Ahmed has been promised to marry someone else and insists that their cultures will not accept each other. Although she has been rushed into an engagement with a man from a noble family, Laura visits Ahmed dressed in an Egyptian costume for a masquerade ball and pouts, ``I can look just as Egyptian as you can.'' He still resists, but while in Egypt she tracks Ahmed down and runs off with him. En route to see his parents and ask for their blessing, a bomb kills Ahmed but leaves the pregnant Laura alive. When her mother insists that she give the illegitimate child up for adoption, Laura accepts an offer from Ahmed's parents to live in a secluded palace. Later, isolated in the desert and then married to a cruel Syrian cousin of Ahmed's, she retreats into herself. Laura then chooses to send her daughter Rosetta to board at a London school where, naturally, she encounters the upper-crust offspring of her mother's long-lost friends and relatives. Hylton's descriptions of both people and places have a numbing vagueness to them: Ahmed is ``a splendid example of young Egyptian manhood.'' What aspires to be an examination of cultural difference instead disintegrates into a routine romance with a poorly painted, if exotic, setting. Read full book review >
Released: May 29, 1991

Another English rose gets sorely tested by misfortune and nasty relatives but, true to Hylton form (as established in Fragile Heritage, My Sister Clare, and others), weathers the storm still decorously foliated and smelling sweet. She's Lisa Hamiltonand as this book opens, she gets called back to the family home near Lancaster to attend the funeral of dowager Grandmother Marston. Though Lisa's engineer husband, Alexander, is abroad, she makes the tripalbeit with an unquiet heart, since it quickly becomes apparent that the Marston clan loathes her. It seems that when Lisa was just a wee bud growing up on a Kenyan game reserve, her deranged father put an end to the illicit love affair between her mother and Uncle Philip by shooting the pair before turning the pistol on himselfleaving Lisa in the hands of the grandmother who blamed the poor little girl for the whole disaster. To make matters worse, a rivalry developed between quiet, unassuming, musically inclined Lisa and her dangerously beautiful cousin Jessica, who ended Lisa's hopes for a concert career by slamming a piano lid on her fingers. Unaccountably, though, Jessica remained the favorite, and Lisa sealed her own fate inside the family by stealing handsome Alexander from her awful cousin. So it comes as no surprise when Lisa gets shafted in Grandmother Marston's willthough Alexander does show up at the eleventh hour to give his much-abused wife something to lord over Jessica. It's all markedly predictablelargely thanks to Lisa's willing acceptance of victimization and tiresome goodness, character traits that combine to make her a thornless rose, and thus an unnatural, uncompelling heroine. Read full book review >