An engaging first novel that follows the adventures of a young British Colonial woman--from a sheltered childhood in Malaysia to a hardscrabble existence in England and Australia. When WW II arrives to spoil Ursula Fraser's idyllic Malaysian life--causing the deaths of her doting British father, her Australian stepmother, and a beloved tutor--the young girl flees to her amah's village, where she survives disguised as a native girl. Then, after the war, she's shipped off to live with a resentful aunt in London. There, orphaned and penniless, Ursula goes to work as a governess in a prominent household, where she falls in love with and marries the family's handsome eldest son, Simon Patterson. Too late, she realizes that Simon is in love with his stepmother; that his two half-siblings are actually his children; and that her marriage is nothing but a cover-up for the lovers' affair. Shipped off to a country cottage, Ursula subsists on her husband's handouts and occasional visits from London, giving birth to a daughter as she learns to survive on her own. When she meets dashing Tim Nowlton, a visiting Australian politician, Ursula falls in love again; and after he returns to his homeland, she abruptly follows him--only to find that in the interim he's married a pregnant ex-lover. Stuck in Australia, Ursual retreats to a back-country farm with her daughter, where she straggles against the elements and settles for a lengthy affair with the increasingly powerful Nowlton. The years to come bring the birth of an illegitimate son, the death of her daughter in childbirth, and the destruction of Tim's marriage and career when the troth of their affair is revealed--but in the end Ursula is rewarded with family, independence, and the man she loves, even if at an enormous cost. A fine, earnest saga, and a promising debut.