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The military-minded author of The Salamanca Drum (1977) now takes an English armaments dynasty into the fringes of the occult. Recently divorced Sarah Goodwill is hired by paralyzed Maj. Charles Storrington to live in and ghost-write the family history. The house, Victorian Gothic, is oddly atmospheric, and the mÉnage is even more so: beautiful Cressida, Charles' wife, away most of the time; dotty old Nanny Galloway, muttering in the halls; and young ""Dolly"" Storrington, a peculiar boy with an imaginary friend, Joseph, who even gets his own plate at the table and is nearly visible to frazzled, dullish Sarah. Happily for the reader, however, bland Sarah soon finds two Victorian diaries, one of which belonged to Hannah Knox, a Victorian governess far more interesting than Sarah herself. Hannah was a repressed miss longing for bright lights, sensuality, and the good life who patiently set about getting her charges thoroughly under her influence so she could get at their parents. Could Hannah's doings still be affecting the contemporary Storringtons? Her seduction by the dynasty's lusty founder? Her battle of wills with ""Boy,"" the beautiful, brilliant, and psychopathic youngest child who spent part of his time photographing his mother's amours and the rest chained to his bed in fits? Ah, yes, because history repeats itself, at least in dynastic Gothics. Uneven--so much better in the past than the present--but gripping nonetheless.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1978
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan