THE FORTRESS by Catherine Gavin


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As in The Cactus and the Crown (see p. 1094, 1961), Catherine Gavin turns to the mid-nineteenth century for the setting of her historical novel, but here the field of action is Europe during the Crimean War. Yankee John Brand Endicott finds himself involved with Finnish patriotism in the attractive person of Alexandra Gyllenlove when she uses the hospitality of his ship to run away from her father in Russia. His attempt to help her earns him a prison sentence for drunken and disorderly conduct, and his grandmother Tarras, who owns the ship he captains, dismisses him, with a nudge in the direction of duty in the Royal Navy. Alix, re-met, urges him to take up Finland's fight against Russia through Britain. Aboard the H.M.S. Arrogant, he sees duty at Domarsund under Napier, but when the fort falls, the Finns impressed by the Russians are forced into British prison ships. Alix, who has again escaped from Russia to Finland, goes with them to plead their cause, and it is only Brand's concern and the good offices of her brother-in-law that secure her release months later from Lewes Prison. She marries Brand, privateers with him as he continues to fight her battle against the Russians, and for her zeal miscarries his child. When Sevastopol falls, chastened at last, she realizes that Finland must wait for its freedom and that the islands of Maine now hold her destiny...Miss Gavin's canvas ranges from the Russian to the French court, to the stormy Baltic Sea for its effect, and her high-spirited heroine may well win admirers, although her story is perhaps not equal to the historical background that accompanies it. The publishers have high hopes for it and will promote.

Publisher: Doubleday