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Here, Courter (Code Ezra, 1986, etc.) writes of a Jewish heiress to an opium empire who braces scandal to become a formidable defender of her own and her family's vital interests. Dinah Sassoon was never a delicate beauty like her mother, Luna, and the gossips whisper that it's just as well. Too tall, too intelligent, and far too pushy to suit 19th-century Calcutta's intimate Jewish community, Dinah at least remains free of her mother's opium addiction and is unlikely to be murdered, as Luna was, by a jealous lover. Nevertheless, the scandal of her mother's death has ruined Dinah's chances of marrying a local boy. Instead, she is rewarded with a betrothal to the handsome, intellectual heir of a tea dynasty in distant Darjeeling. Despite her initial aversion to her financÉ, Dinah is so relieved to escape her family's involvement with the sale of opium--which she blames for destroying her mother--that she marries willingly. Bad luck follows, however: her bridegroom soon confesses that as a homosexual he can never make her happy; the marriage is subsequently dissolved; and Dinah lands back in her father's house. A year later, Dinah falls in love with a second suitor. The two embark on a happy marriage that produces four children and immense new wealth--despite a sulky mother-in-law, a lustful maharajah, and the revelation that Dinah's new husband is secretly addicted to opium. Dinah faces each crisis head-on, avenging her mother's murder, tossing an embezzler out of the family business, inheriting her ex-husband's tea empire, and phasing herself out of the opium trade before she settles down to live happily ever after. Dinah's unconflicted, monomaniacal character leaves little room for suspense in this rambling saga--but perhaps some will find it exhilarating to watch Courter topple her quickly sketched supporting characters like bowling pins.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1990
ISBN: 0595242499
Publisher: Dutton