A divorced father, fearing the influence of his ruthlessly social-climbing ex, kidnaps his baby daughter and heads to the hills—until his past and the police catch up.
Brilliant lawyer Donald Wolf is a straight-arrow kind of guy and a romantic soul who wants to marry and have kids. An associate in a leading New York firm, he thinks that in Lillian, a legal secretary who loves art, he’s met the perfect woman. While Lillian is curiously reticent about her family and past, Donald is too smitten to ask questions. Nor is he particularly curious when Mr. Buzley, her boss, gives them a lavish wedding gift. Once married, Lillian spends money freely and befriends the rich couple who live in the penthouse. Next she’s dragging Donald to glamorous parties and complaining they don’t have enough money. When she gets pregnant, they decide to take a trip to Italy, where Lillian studied art and where Donald, already tired of Lillian’s greedy ways, learns more about her past—not good—and asks for a divorce. Lillian gives birth to daughter Bettina, and, now married to Mr. Buzley, lives in style. But soon Donald, who sees Bettina regularly in the park with her nanny, learns that Lillian is cheating on Buzley. An accident involving Bettina convinces Donald that life with Lillian would be bad for her, and he so kidnaps the two-year-old, takes a false name, and heads for a small hill-town in Georgia, where years pass, he becomes a respected citizen, and makes himself helpful to ailing farmer Clarence Benson, his pretty wife Kate, and their young son Rick. Aware that the police are looking for him, Donald never leaves town, but his past catches up with him when he goes to Bettina’s college graduation. His life unravels as lies and secrets come to light—but this is Belva Plain (Looking Back, 2001, etc. etc.), and happiness lies ahead.
Plain reading: no troubling shadings to complicate or disturb.