Shelby's trilogy about an 18th-century English dynasty of carriage makers is off to a bouncing start with The Cannaways, a steamingly spirited potboiler with an engaging hero: a young tradesman enraptured by quality coaches. Brydd Cannaway apprentices as a wheelwright and by seventeen is ready to branch out on his own as a coachmaker. Following an escapade in which he saves some rich folks from highway robbers, he finds himself facing the seemingly most beautiful carriage ever made. This triple-varnished and illuminated work of art was made in Vienna (it's a frappe of a trap), and Brydd--who is also a talented sketch artist-must be off to Vienna to learn the art of the masters. The long, 800-mile trip is full of wonders, including the rats' nest of Paris which can be smelled five miles off, rich gambling dens, and a 250-mile sail down the blue Danube. And then he's into his first rented room ever--in Vienna! A fortunate friendship gets him into the coach yards where he can absorb the great secrets. Romance and money fall his way, but he loses much in a tragic accident and must leave Vienna. Back home, married, he sets up his own coachyard and builds a glorious new coach for a great coach race. Likable characters, charming detail--and unswerving narrative. Very well done!