TILLY ALONE by Catherine Cookson
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TILLY ALONE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Third volume in the frizzy period saga of feisty Tilly Trotter, who's still--even in her fifties--the ""fascinating"" powerhouse that haunts men's dreams. Here she has returned to England from pioneer Texas, where husband Matthew Sopwith was killed by Indians. Back with her: small Willy, her son by Matthew's dead father Mark; and tiny Josephina, the half-caste child whom Tilly believes is Matthew's by an Indian woman. (Cookson's familial tangles reverberate throughout like tin well-buckets, with new surprises galore.) And Tilly is now, via Matthew, mistress of the Sopwith mines and the Sopwith mansion--Highfield Manor. But to the village she's still the poor-orphan ""witch"" of long ago--so there's the usual glower from the meaner villagers (one had blinded Willy with a stone), with Tilly blamed for assorted troubles: a murder and suicide at the Manor; the evil doings of Simon Brentwood, the farmer who once wanted to marry Tilly; an accident at the mine. And, through it all, only Steve McGrath (whose family's dastardly doings were featured in the previous two books), stands by--as mine manager. Years pass; Willy turns 20 and falls in love with Noreen, daughter of evil Simon--who flings pregnant Noreen into durance vile, which leads to escapes, reconciliations, and tragedy. (Simon dies, gasping out to Tilly that ""You ruined my life, you did."") Meanwhile, Josephina returns to America, discovers her real (quite depressing) mother, and wishes to come back to Tilly--and Willy, whom she has loved in a most unsisterly fashion. (It seems she was not Matthew's child!) And at the last Tilly will marry Steve--who starts mixing with the hoi polloi and thus becomes a fit master for the Manor. (Shame on Tilly! Has a Tory heart been beating through that bootstrap egalitarianism all this time?) Books I and II were more fun--Cookson's down-and-outs always have more pep than the Manor crowd--but a faithful readership awaits.

Pub Date: March 8th, 1982
Publisher: Morrow