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The emotional aftershocks of WW I send two pairs of lovers reeling in Singapore--in another English-colonial romance by a seasoned veteran (A Captive Freedom, 1987, etc.). It is 1920 and WW I has ended, but Alex Beresford--young, virile heir to a Singapore shipping fortune--still resents having had to sit out the war at his parents' side instead of proving himself on the battlefield. His feelings of inferiority are exacerbated when Martin Linwood, a war-hero Alex's age, arrives in the colony to recover from shell shock and the loss of his family--and instantly earns the love of Alex's naive teenaged sister, Lydia. The young men's mutual envy promises to lead to blows but for the arrival of the beautiful Dorothea du Lessier, a would-be writer who seems likely to follow in the footsteps of her infamous mother, a bohemian novelist. Dorothea's appearance is the first breath of modernity to hit Singapore, and to Alex she represents everything his colonial milieu does not: sophistication, worldly cynicism, style, and romance. He pursues her, as Lydia pursues Martin, against a whirling background of sparkling colonial dinner parties, Chinese rituals and celebrations, scandalous intrigue in the British import-export business, and an idyllic journey into the back country--until the passage of time finds all four lovers escaping to a more tolerant England where their alliances are unexpectedly rearranged. Drummond's vivid re-creations of the exotic former colony are entertainingly matched by her Roaring Twenties characters, but the last-minute musical chairs she arranges among the partners leaves readers unsure of whom to root for and makes for an anticlimatic ending, at best. Masterful parts, then, adding up to a less than satisfying whole--a familiar tune for Drummond.

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 1990
Publisher: St. Martin's