The amiable chronicle of an 18th-century ugly duckling--a plain but sensible and goodhearted heroine who swans it regally at the close. She's shy Caroline Harding (long nose, fine eyes), who finds life depressing when her vicar father dies and leaves her to her overbearing sister and weak brothers--so depressing that she lets scheming Lady Lennox persuade her to go to Calcutta to wed John Gates (the flashy young Lennox nephew who was engaged to Caroline eight years ago but then never returned to England). Gates is now a dissolute, untidy, and greedy rake who has agreed to marry only under the threat of disinheritance--but Caroline doesn't know that; and she has a deliciously happy six months en route to India with new dear friends: wealthy, pretty Isobel Grant and courtly General North, both of whom adore her refreshing frankness and spirit. Once in India (where she meets Isobel's upright cousin, Sir Edward Ashton), Caroline, to her friends' horror, weds Gates (there's a non-consummation pact) and hard times ensue: poverty, Gates' abusive drunkenness, and general squalor. But, though Caroline will temporarily be forced to earn her own living and support the household (she's an angel of mercy to poor Indian servants), a terrible fire is waiting to remove the inconvenient Gates, and Prince Charming is waiting in the wings. Caroline will marry Ashton, of course, and become ""the rage of Calcutta."" A fine follow-up to Trollope's Eliza Stanhope debut (1979)--and highly comfy.