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Gower's third dip into the intertwined lives of stalwart women and their men in Selwyn's Eye, a mining town in south Wales. Here time has marched on, from the turn of the century (Copper Kingdom, 1984, and Proud Mary, 1985) to WW I, and another lass-with-burdens battles her way to love as those around her (most of whom have appeared in the earlier novels) are doing likewise. Rhian Gray, a mill worker of some skill, had left Selwyn's Eye under twin clouds: she had been the victim of rape, and brother Billy had done time unjustly (Proud Mary). Now Rhian, leaving Yorkshire and the magnetic mill-owner Mansel Jack, comes home to care for a dying aunt. Eventually she'll move in with kindly, persecuted Austrian Heinz Sinman and wife Gina. Gina, later widowed, will care for not only her own baby (Rhian saved the infant's life) but also little Carianne, sprout of brother Billy and his lover, snooty Delmai, wife of weak, arrogant Rickie Richardson. Rickie agrees to take back Delmai (weary of lust amid the coal dust)--but minus the by-blow. So Aunt Rhian takes over. Meanwhile, Rhian has a serious suitor in Heath Jenkins, brother of Proud Mary, childless wife of Brandon Sutton. Heath is everything good, but he doesn't chum the senses like Mansel Jack--who'll come to town to run a munitions factory. There'll be the inevitable, tragic factory explosion; Proud Mary will have an extramarital fling; and Rhian and Mansel Jack will set off their own kind of fireworks, before he marches off to war. In a coincidence endemic to multi-peopled but tidy novels like Gower's, Selwyn's Eye men meet on a French battlefield: Heath (the rejected), Sterling (Rickie's nice brother), a grief-stricken swain of a working-girl who was killed in Mansel Jack's factory, and M. Jack himself. And someone throws a grenade. At the end, home-front women await survivors. Yards and yards of gossipy scandals and domestica, especially attractive to Selwyn'e Eye habituÉs.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1986
ISBN: 0727857894
Publisher: St. Martin's