A HIGH AND LONELY ROAD by Helen Cannam

A HIGH AND LONELY ROAD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A first novel and British import sweetly set among the peaceable Quaker folk of Yorkshire during the Industrial Revolution. Hannah Burton is Cannam's favorite Quakeress, the adopted daughter of John and Agnes Burton of Low Farm, a sheepy piece of God's rolling dale country near North Riding. Hannah is content to mind the flock, until a neighbor boy--woolly-headed Samuel Gayle--lets on that she's a changeling. Then Sam's older brother, Robert, returns from his apprenticeship with a hosier, and Hannah's peace is further disturbed by lust, mistaken at the time for love. Robert is dashing and full of distinctly unQuakerish ideas, like turning an abandoned mill into a cotton carding and spinning-factory--which sounds like a good idea to Hannah until she realizes that cotton comes from Barbados and is thus the product of slave labor. So she breaks with Robert and weds Sam. On their wedding night, though, awful Robert tells his little brother that he's lain with Hannah (which is true), leading to some rough marital weather. Meanwhile, Hannah starts her own mill--this one for wool--and makes a modest success of it. Eventually, Sam comes around, despite the fact that Robert continues to pursue Hannah. But just before she gives in to her slimy brother-in-law, Sam takes her off to Scotland, where Hannah tracks down her true father in a Glasgow slum and admits to her husband that she's strayed--with forgiveness as her reward. Unoffending though overwritten--leaving one sorry that Hannah never looked beyond the Gayle family for a man as fundamentally true-blue and secretly fiery as she is.

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 1990
Publisher: St. Martin's