AURORA ROSE by Anne Worboys

AURORA ROSE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A spritely novel from Worboys (Run, Sara, Run, 1981) that brings to life the early settlement of New Zealand by following the fortunes of Rose and Nicholas, a pair of star-crossed lovers. It's the misfortune of Rose Snape, kitchen maid at Castle Rundull, to be born a beauty, for in the spring of 1839, when she's 17, the Honorable Nicholas le Grys, ""a man of strong appetites and arrogant ways,"" falls in love with her and accidentally murders the village blacksmith when he tries to rape Rose. Nicholas is sent off to London to wait out the scandal, where he's encouraged to make a drunken proposal to Lady Cressida, then is bullied into honoring it, while Rose, to whom he's also proposed, suggesting they begin a new life together in New Zealand, is smuggled out of his life. But Rose knows that Cressida will ""never experience the magic that had been between herself and Nicholas."" Pregnant with Nicholas' child she convinces Daniel Putnam, the villa carpenter, to marry her and emigrate to New Zealand, on the same ship, on which Nicholas and his new wife sail. Nicholas is never quite able to devote himself to Cressida when Rose and son Giles are just around the corner. And Daniel becomes sullen, disgusted, as are the ladies of Wellington, by Rose's attempts to better herself--though, with her native intelligence and hunger to learn, Rose is uniquely qualified to succeed in the classless society that emerges. There will be delightful and colorful secondary characters, a childbed death, an inheritance, a return to England, and return again to New Zealand--before Rose and the reformed Nicholas, widow and widower, at last find joy and new wealth together. Portraits of the New Zealand colony, scenes of the early settlers, accounts of the physical hardships and the struggles with the Maori--all are woven intricately into the soap-operatic but spirited saga of Rose and Nicholas.

Pub Date: May 14th, 1988
Publisher: Dutton