SAVANNAH by Eugenia Price


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Picking up more or less where the deadly-dull Don Juan McQueen (1974) left off, Price continues to mix Georgia history with sentimental romance--here concentrating on the 1812-1822 Savannah fortunes of young newcomer Mark Browning. Yale-graduate Mark--virtuous, noble, ""beautiful""--sails to Georgia from Philadelphia after the deaths of his beloved aunt and his world-traveling tycoon/father (who never stopped grieving over the death of Mark's mother). Determined to make his own way, Mark keeps his wealth a secret. He's immediately, warmly adopted by his new boss, trader Robert Mackay, by the Mackay children, and by Robert's adored wife Eliza (daughter of Don Juan McQueen). And he promptly wins the heart of beautiful, brilliant young Caroline Cameron. Still, there are a few dark murmurs in Mark's newfound bliss. He is taunted by notorious Savannah rascal Osmund Kott--the same varmint who appears to be blackmailing Caroline's old grandfather: could this be connected to the mysterious past of Mark's Savannah-born mother? (It could indeed. As Mark soon learns, she was Grandfather Cameron's illegitimate daughter, just as Kott was his illegitimate son.) Furthermore, though Mark reveres his half-cousin Caroline, he feels more passion for older Eliza, his best friend's wife! And after assorted calamities--Cameron's fire-death, Mackay's heart-attack death--Mark can at last confess his love to Eliza. . . who rebuffs him. (""What can I do with this--ugly humiliation? How can I face her again? How can I face--Caroline? What do I do next, God?"") This romantic muddle soon sorts itself, however: with Eliza as doting friend, Mark and Caroline do marry, finding ""their own free, wholly natural passion""; a daughter is born; meanwhile, Eliza's oldest sons grow up, one of them finding True Love. And the novel's last section focuses on the uneasy reconciliation between Caroline and her fierce, widowed, dying Grandmother (who hated Caroline's adored Grandfather)--with things left up in the air for a sequel . . . and the supposedly reformed Osmund Kott still up to no good, now as overseer of the Cameron estate. Price (Maria, Margaret's Story) drops in tidbits of Savannah lore and history: architecture, society, famous eccentrics, the fire of 1820, a visit from President Monroe. But the repetitious dialogue and belabored sentimentality here make this slow as molasses, sweet as treacle--and only for Price's most sedate, patient fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 18th, 1982
Publisher: Doubleday