THE FLIGHT OF THE SHADOW by George MacDonald

THE FLIGHT OF THE SHADOW

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KIRKUS REVIEW

MacDonald (1824-1905) is best known for his children's fiction and his fantasy-romances; but this is the US debut of an only slightly fantastical minor romance, written just before Lilith (1895)--which, in some aspects of plot and character, it anticipates. Orbie (Belorba, ""fair orphan"") lives idyllically with her kindly, bookish but moody uncle on a moorland farm. She falls in love with handsome neighbor John Day, but their romance is intractably opposed by John's mother, the vicious, manipulating Lady Lucretia Cairnedge. Uncle approves but (thanks to a guilty secret) fears to defy Lady Cairnedge openly. So when John falls ill and seeks refuge with Orbie, Uncle shelters him and drives off the Cairnedge hirelings sent to take him by force, but decides he must now leave for Paris. Orbie and John run the farm, watched over by a spectral-seeming horseman who resembles Uncle, until one day they come upon Uncle dying in the snow; he recovers but doesn't seem to recognize them. Later, in Paris, the lovers discover that Uncle is--twins! Years ago they both became infatuated with Lady Cairnedge, who schemed to destroy them; each twin believed he had killed the other. The wrap-up: they return to the farm, drive out Lady Cairnedge (who isn't John's real mother after all), and the lovers marry. Slender, contrived romancing, with a few gothic-y touches; of little interest to the MacDonald fantasy audience, but with some possible appeal to period-romance readers.

Pub Date: March 9th, 1983
ISBN: 1421800322
Publisher: Harper & Row