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By the English author of the Hillsbridge series and Women and War (1988), another fat chunk of family-saga cheese, this one aged in county Somerset and concerning the infant aeronautics industry. The Morse family of Chewton Leigh House--headed by scion Gilbert--already runs a successful automotive firm, but Gilbert can't help having his head turned toward the sky by the exploits of pilots like Wright and BlÉriot. Meanwhile, he takes into his snobbish family (which includes awful daughter Alicia; even worse Leo, a stepchild; and sons Hugh and Lawrence) his bastard-child Sarah, though she doesn't know who nice Mr. Morse really is. Ill-treated by the brood, Sarah finally runs away at 17 when Hugh rapes her, and winds up as a balloonist known as ""The Sweetheart of the Skies."" But later it's back to Chewton Leigh for Sarah when ambitious Adam Bailey reveals that he's in need of backing for his experimental aircraft. Though Sarah and Adam fall in love, nasty old Alicia worms her way between the couple, leaving Sarah to marry the consolation prize, Eric, at about the same time Adam and Alicia wed. Aeronautic expansion at Morse and the Great War follow, then years of furtive glances exchanged between Sarah and Adam, until big daddy Gilbert and Eric die in an airplane accident rigged by the old snake Leo. And by the end, Adam and Sarah will have reunited, with even Alicia rallying round the Morse company when Leo tries once more to throw a wrench into the works. Reasonably filling as such entertainments go, but with nothing either new or pulse-accelerating.

Pub Date: Nov. 26th, 1990
Publisher: St. Martin's