Writing as Caroline Harvey, England’s popular Joanna Trollope depicts three generations of women whose beauty and sense of adventure draw them to strong men and interesting lives.
The saga of Charlotte, her granddaughter Alexandra, and her great-granddaughter Cara is told in separate sections. Charlotte’s begins in the early 1840s when, living quietly with her sister Emily and their widowed mother, Charlotte agrees to marry Hugh Connell, a wealthy soldier bound for Kabul. She’s not in love with him, but marriage offers possibilities of adventure in exotic places, so, accompanied by Emily, she travels to India and on to Afghanistan. The East is everything she dreamed of, but Hugh, conventional and stuffy, is less satisfying. All this changes, though, when she meets and falls hard for handsome and notorious Alexander Bewick. But then war breaks out, and soon Charlotte endures different sorts of adventures, including a spell as a hostage, from the kind she’d contemplated. In the early 1900s, Alexandra is living unhappily with her parents in Scotland. Her mother, Charlotte and Alexander’s daughter, criticizes her for not being adventuresome like her grandmother, but when Great-aunt Emily invites Alexandra to stay with her in Cornwall, she finds her vocation: she begins a farm on the estate that she’ll soon inherit and also meets the famous artist Michael Swinton, who paints her portrait and changes her life. The third story begins in 1939, as Cara, spoiled and self-absorbed, graduates from school and WWII begins. Obliged to spend the war working the land and helping her crippled mother Alexandra, she is resentful, lonely and humiliated in love. At the close, however, a family tragedy will end that self-absorption and lead her to a sense of purpose.
Typical of the genre: true love is found (and conquers), money is no problem, and the future is ever promising. Literate but lite.