THE AMERICAN HEIRESS by Dorothy Eden
Kirkus Star

THE AMERICAN HEIRESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Another of Eden's beautifully tailored, warming romances, this one a WW I period-piece featuring the career of Harriet ""Hetty"" Brown--the offspring of a wealthy New Yorker and an upstairs maid who masquerades her way to an English title and a mansion. . . though not without considerable travail. At the start Hetty, lady's maid to Clemency Jervis, has long since figured out that Clemency (her almost look-alike) is really her half-sister. So when Clemency and Mrs. Jervis and Hetty sail on the Lusitania for Clemency's wedding to Lord Hugo Hazzard and the ship goes down with Mrs. Jervis and (apparently) Clemency, Hetty--rescued with Clemency's initialed bracelet on!--goes in for a bit of deceit. Lord Hugo accepts her without question as Clemency (though she asks him to call her ""Hetty""), but he's obviously not in love, just looking for money to save his country estate, Loburn. Mother-in-law Lady Flora is formidable, seems suspicious; her companion, Julia, is obviously in love with Hugo and is more his horsy type. Then, when Hugo's brother Lionel returns ill from the war, he becomes immensely attractive to Hetty, though he's wed to nice Kitty. And Hetty has other troubles too: Julia's jealousy, mysterious threats, a miscarriage via a (Julia-plotted) bolting horse. Worst of all, there's the possibility that someone knows the Truth: a boat acquaintance of Clemency's is invited for a visit; a copy of Clemency's green dress comes from New York; and Clemency's old uncle arrives summoned by a letter Hetty did not write. Finally, soldier Hugo returns from battle horribly wounded, a monster of self-pity and rage. . . but Hetty's affectionate good sense and lovableness bring about an amusing and happy close. Does the basic plot here sound awfully familiar? If so, you're probably remembering Richard Peck's Amanda/Miranda (p. 32). But never mind: wildly original or not, in Eden's hands it's all a lady-like pleasure, smooth as cream.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 1980
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan