PEARLS by Celia Brayfield
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Brayfield's vivid, winsome first novel is the story of two English sisters who think the world is their oyster--until they learn dark secrets about their aristocratic father's past. As the novel opens in the 1980's, Catherine and Monty Bourton are sisters in their late 30s--Catherine a brilliant London investments consultant, Monty a rock star living in America. They have always been bound together by the tragedy of their beloved father's death: lord James Bourton inexplicably committed suicide in 1963. In a series of flashbacks that make for a separate (and quite engrossing) story all to themselves, we learn that James was the ne'er-do-well second son of English nobility who went off to find fame and fortune in Malaya during the 30's; that he became a successful rubber planter and later courageously fought a guerrilla war against the occupying Japanese. But his own father's will stipulated that he must have offspring if he was to come into a fortune--so he brutally stole his two daughters by a Malaysian woman he ""married"" during the war and passed them off back in England as the olive-skinned offspring of himself and his timid wife, Bettina. The girls are, of course, Catherine and Monty, and we watch as--after James' suicide--they battle their way through swinging London of the 60's, with Monty becoming a heroine addict before rising to stardom, and Catherine pioneering her way through London's chauvinistic business world. But one morning each wakes up to find a priceless pink pearl under her pillow--and the search for the owner of the pearls leads them to the beautiful, mysterious Princess Ayeshah, who helps unlock the secret behind their father's suicide and their own parentage. Thoroughly researched, darkly romantic, and suspenseful--in all, good, long, leisurely summer reading.

Pub Date: July 20th, 1987
Publisher: Morrow