KING OF DIAMONDS by Carolyn Terry

KING OF DIAMONDS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Hard-working, serviceable family-saga doings, in England and South Africa, 1866-1900--centering on the business triumphs and private-life woes of handsome, cold-hearted Matthew Bright. Matthew doesn't start out cold-hearted, of course: too poor to wed his beloved Isobel, daughter of the Duke of Desborough, he sets off to make his fortune in the 1869 diamond rush; but, by the time Matthew has struck it rich in Kimberley, Isobel has married his fat, slimy brother Freddy. . . who has managed (via triple-murder) to inherit an Earldom! Matthew vows re-venge, naturally--and gets it by marrying (virtually buying) Isobel's younger sister Anne, then driving guilt-ridden Freddy insane. Meanwhile, however, young Daniel Steyn--a nationalistic Boer journalist--is vowing revenge on Matthew, who seduced and abandoned Danie's gorgeous sister (she died in stillbirth). Further-more, wife Anne, hurt by Matthew's coldness, is unhappy in her South African household--especially after daughter Victoria dies from smallpox (Matthew ignored Anne's wise warnings re the epidemic threat); and so, after the birth of son Philip, Anne has a tender one-night-stand with Matthew's gentle American partner John Court--resulting in daughter Tiffany, who'll be raised in the US by her father. (Matthew believes, wrongly, that both Philip and Tiffany are bastards.) Circa 1890 the action moves largely back to England: Matthew is nearly seduced by his tricky niece Julia; Anne dies in yet another childbirth (daughter Miranda); Matthew dallies with Princess Katherine Raminska. But finally everyone re-gathers in South Africa just in time for the Boer War: Tiffany is seeking the truth about her never-known mother; Matthew is finding true love with Miranda's governess Laura; and Danie is about to have his much-longed-for revenge on Matthew. . . though there'll be a happy ending thanks to Danie's basic decency and a bit of cutesy happenstance. First-novelist Terry shows her inexperience--in loose plot-ends that never get tied, in prose that slides from competent to clumsy. And, for Kimberley diamond-rush drama, this isn't in the same league with Alan Scholefleld's gripping The Stone Flower (1982) or even Sidney Sheldon's Master of the Came. Still, with large helpings of sex, revenge, childbirth, and adultery: just-passable formula fare.

Pub Date: Jan. 25th, 1984
Publisher: Morrow