This US debut by a British author is an eye-opener for those who thought the English doted on the aristocracy--for in it Walker does a thorough job of dragging a family of toffs through the dirt. Of course, the Hellyns, owners of the 400-year-old Yorkshire family manse known as The Court (which is so ramshackle that it daunts even the National Trust), are as at home in the muck as worms. Take gorgeous Lady Mara, who, after her father dies on the eve of her coming out, lights out for London to break up marriages and male hearts; when money's short, as it invariably is among Hellyns, she exchanges sexual favors for cash. Meanwhile, her brother, the new Lord Melville, is a raving lunatic, committed to a National Health asylum just as The Court is opened as a fancy hotel, with frigid, sad-sack sister Lisa at the front desk. Younger brother Angus tries to run for Parliament with no success, thanks especially to the scandal swirling around Mara, who gets pregnant by a married prince and then, for once in her life, dumped. But fear not: all comes out right in the end, with each Hellyn sibling finding a spouse, except for Marcus, who, much to everyone's relief, does himself in. And even The Court itself gets a reprieve when Mara decides to go panhandling on the American philanthropic circuit to save the place from being put on the block. An English Dallas, full of awful people doing ugly things.