Bridgwood's US debut novel, set in suburban London from the turn of the century to the eve of WW II, is the tale of two generations of three different families living in the same street--a tale that's intricately woven, yet doesn't succeed in engaging. Magnolia Gardens is where nouveau riche Fearless Frank Finzel moves his family up from the slums of Catford; where disinherited barrister Robert Clifford moves with his impossibly icy second wife (the first, his true love, died in childbirth); and where Magdalene Stark, with her illegitimate daughter Loveday, is set up by the child's father, the wealthy Lord Hallet. Robert and Magdalena almost immediately start having an affair. The second half of the book focuses on the sordid goings-on of the young sprouts of Magnolia Gardens--as Amelia (Mel) Finzel falls head over heels in love with Edwin Clifford (after he has a fling with Loveday, then decides to marry an impossibly icy woman--like father, like son--whose family can advance his career in the ministry); unaware, Mel, as she's called, has conceived his son; Loveday--like mother, like daughter--begins her career as a kept woman, kept, in this case, by the father of the man who spurned her, Robert Clifford, not realizing he had had an affair with her own over-the-hill mother. Meanwhile, Mel's sister Ethne begins an international singing career, which Loveday (once she tires of the mistress routine) decides to manage, all the while keeping Mel's lovechild a secret from Edwin until, well. with WW II approaching, she just can't keep it secret anymore, and anyway, Edwin is ready to renounce the ministry and his proper marriage for the woman he really loves. A kind of cockney Peyton Place that never, however, pulls a reader in.