Swank historical romance from old salt Gidley (Raging of the Sea, River Running By), who blends just the right amount of...

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ARMADA

Swank historical romance from old salt Gidley (Raging of the Sea, River Running By), who blends just the right amount of 16th-century historical flourish, oh-so-delicately rendered sex, and intricately plotted action to make this a splashy crowd-pleaser. Two Cornïsh fishermen discover a nobleman and his confessor adrift at sea. The nastier of the fishermen, Harry Pascoe, murders what's left of the languishing castaways and, in stealing their gold and a medallion depicting the Madonna, sets in motion a delightfully improbable, symmetrically plotted adventure that winds down some 400 pages later when the Madonna is returned to the sea. In the meantime, Harry's partner passes the medallion on to his daughter, who soon gets pregnant by Harry's son, Tristram, just before Tristram sets off to sea with the now-wealthy, privateering Harry. Little does Tristram know that at the same time a young Irish noblewoman is sailing to Portugal after being married off to a Portuguese noble, Dom Joao. But Dom Joao ignores his new bride in favor of young boys, a fact that becomes apparent to Sarah at about the same time that Tristram, presumed drowned, washes up on a Portuguese shore in time for a bit of love interest with her. His love affair detected, Tristram escapes with his friend Joaquim and returns to England, where the two are enlisted as spies for the English Protestant cause. Tristram and Joaquim head for the continent; and, back again in Portugal, Tristram meets and marries Dorothea, a spoiled young aristocrat. Ah, but it's not true love, merely fleshly passion, and when Tristram encounters Sarah again the old flame burns once more. War between England and Spain heats up, Tristram sails with the Armada, which--apart from everything else--does away with Sarah's nobleman husband, who dies at sea. Enough? Not quite. Dorothea contracts fever and dies, and Sarah returns to Ireland, where, after Tristram's wanderings, the pair are reunited. A lavish, melodramatic tour de force that, never lingering long enough over any one clichÉ for anyone to notice, provides solid candy-coated entertainment.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1987

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1987