Those in the author's longtime and considerable following will be eagerly awaiting this second book (after Bright Captivity, 1991) in the trilogy concerned with the fortunes of the Coupers, Frasers, and other prime families of Georgia's St. Simons Island in the early 19th century. (The Frasers et al. did truly exist--in her cheerfully discursive afterword, Price offers a cemetery tour.) But others--those not of the Price fan-club persuasion--may find the 600-plus pages of expository converse, with sentimental postures, more than a bit wearying in spite of the careful research concerning the area's history. The story, set in St. Simons from 1825 to 1839, is mainly of the devoted marriage of Anne Couper and John Fraser, their children and relatives: Anne's parents, her brilliant brother, James; John's brother, Dr. William; and a visiting Scots cousin, Willy. Accompanying the latter to the States is English actress Fanny Kemble, an ardent abolitionist, whose handsome, shallow husband will come to own a plantation nearby. Meanwhile, slavery is much on the minds of everyone. John's hatred of slavery almost diverts him from a career as a planter; others, like Anne's father, have twinges of unease, but that's all, while Anne wonders whether her ``friend,'' the half-white (this is emphasized) slave Eve, could really be a friend in spite of her protestations of devotion (``She be my life''). Emotions all around are slowly sauteÇd: Anne worries that John won't be happy as a planter; Willy carries a torch for Anne; there are marriages and sad buryings; then a steamer explodes, and a murder is committed offstage. Events here do unfold slowly, but, worse, there seems to be no inner animation behind the stilled speech. Strictly for the large following--a picture (postcard) perfect view of plantation life on beautiful St. Simons Island.