A LONDON SEASON by Anthea Bell


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If not bang up to the echo in Regency smarts and flounce, this is nonetheless a comfortable and sociable set of matchmaking dithers, all involving the London ""Season"" of heiress/musician Persephone Grafton--orphaned ward of diplomat Sir Edmund Grafton. . . and chaperon-ee of quiet gentlewoman Elinor Radley. Persephone, a pianist and vocalist of striking talents and beauty, has always been a handful; so Edmund's kind but scattered sister Lady Isabella Yoxford, mother of a happy noisy family, dreads her niece's arrival for the Season. Meanwhile, Persephone is grim at the prospect of a chaperone--""some old cat"" doing guard duty. But, happily for all, Edmund persuades young and charming Elinor (who has toiled unsung and unremunerated for a horrid, now-deceased relative) to accompany Persephone in London, where the debutante revels in concerts and operas, even nipping out alone to perform for the family of Charles Kemble. And there's an eligible suitor for her in nice Lord Conington. Then, however, Edmund and Elinor--suppressing their unspoken mutual admiration--begin to suspect that Persephone has a secret inamorato: he turns out to be German composer Robert Walter, who travels with his group of three other musicians as ""The Lark Quartet."" Even worse, a villain from Elinor's hidden past resurfaces--now stalking Persephone! So there'll be purloined letters, a chase, a threat of rape, and some dire imprisonment--before the villain is disposed of. . . to the joyous accompaniment of a ""Hunting Chorus"" from Robert's hefty opera, Boadicea, Queen of Britain. A bit attenuated in the chatter (the principals are dashed slow to get on with the chases), but quietly amusing and--for the most part--on period key.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1983
Publisher: St. Martin's