British writer Buchan (the paperback Daughters of the Storm, 1990) weaves a romantic, nostalgic tale of passion, dark family secrets, and the gentle solace of gardening, set in England in the Thirties and Forties. Matty Verral was orphaned in Damascus as a child and left to the care of her vicious, social-climbing aunt, Susan Chudleigh, who raised her in London--and who's now extremely irked that the wren- like, plain Matty is rich, while her own daughter, Daisy, beautiful and spirited, has no fortune at all. When Matty and Daisy are on holiday in the south of France and meet Kit Dysart, their handsome, well-born young countryman, both cousins fall in love--but Daisy is the one to whom he's powerfully and instantly attracted. Meanwhile, it's known that Kit's family has suffered in the post-WW I economic slump and that his beautiful family home, Hinton Dysart, is threatened. In a move that reveals the steely will beneath her frail exterior, Matty makes Kit a proposal he can't refuse: she will marry him and allow him to share in her fortune, at the same time permitting him the freedom to lead his own life. They marry once back in England, but Kit continues to be haunted by Daisy. Matty knows his feelings and unhappily accepts them--as well as her sorrow that she's unable to conceive a child. She occupies herself in redoing Hinton Dysart, and especially in renovating an abandoned garden, where occasionally she believes she glimpses a ghostly child. Then hints begin to surface of mysterious sorrows and carefully guarded secrets in her husband's family's past: sexual irregularities, tragic accidental death, suicide. Matty begins to probe--little suspecting that she'll soon have to face some painful discoveries of her own. Absorbing romance, well-drawn, sympathetic characters, vivid evocation of the beauties of English gardens and country houses- -plus a nice fillip of the supernatural.