Kirkus Star


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Volume two for The Cannaways (1978) of Faxforge, that no-nonsense, energetic, clean-hearted clan spearheaded by master-coachmaker Brydd. And here dissolute squire Brook Wintersill, whom young Charlotte married on a fatal impulse, intrudes his bestial presence on their clear horizons, so it's a long tough siege in 1719-20--with glorious chases, deadly set-to's, and rides in the night. Poor Charlotte, taunted and violated in the rickety shell of Wintersill Hall (Brook's hard drinking and lewd partying have stripped it bare) finally escapes to her parents after Christmas. But a few months later Brook shows up with ruffian companions. Brydd is shot in the shoulder, brother Giles is cruelly bashed in the kneecap, and Charlotte is dragged back to Wintersill. Charlotte's second escape is better planned and trickier to execute since Brook has hired riffraff to patrol the grounds. But after a fire, some help along the way, and a fast horse, Charlotte arrives at Aunt Sophie's in Bristol--where she'll pick up two admirers (both Jacobites, who persuade her to masquerade for the cause). Meanwhile there's another shoot-out at Faxforge, won by the Cannaways, though they lose a beloved employee. Finally, Charlotte will pair off with one Jacobite, Brook having been conveniently dammed up forever by the other--and, with Brydd's rescue of brother William from bankruptcy and the construction of an innovative coach for urban transport, it appears that the Cannaways are fit and trim and in starting position for another adventure. We hope so, for the characters have tremendous zip and tang whether turning a lathe or a country-style phrase. Delightful.

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1980
Publisher: Doubleday