THE NORTHERN CORRESPONDENT by Jean Stubbs

THE NORTHERN CORRESPONDENT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This fourth episode in the Howarth family saga moves into the Lancaster of the 1830s and '40s, settling convivially upon the career of Ambrose Longe--nephew of that local heavyweight of industry, William Howarth. Ambrose, son of the late political martyr Charlotte, is a swatch off the old bluestocking: he pursues the cause of political and social reform in his impoverished radical newspaper, The Clarion; a solo voice for workers' rights in the worst days of dark satanic mills, he refuses to support Uncle William (an enlightened Tory) for M.P. The Clarion's call is weak, however, until financial relief glides in--in the handsome European person of Naomi Blum, who undertakes financial management of the Clarion, now renamed The Northern Correspondent (after Charlotte's old newspaper). Both Ambrose and Naomi have sworn off love and marriage for various reasons--so it will be some time before mutual regard flames into passion. And William, meanwhile, finances a competing newspaper, the Lancaster Herald--leading to heated but civil rivalry. Among the issues tackled by Ambrose and fended off, or joined by, the Herald: abuses in the mines, with damning testimony from working-class cousin George (he's beaten by thugs); sanitation crusades amid a terrible cholera epidemic; and workers' rights in general. On the domestic front: William's son Hal has a shaky marriage with Mary Vivian, who finds her niche as owner/ editor of a ladies' magazine; the crusading Dr. Jamie Standish marries Dorcas Pole (another Howarth kin); Ambrose and Naomi are divinely happy; all three households produce offspring--who are toddled back and forth. And, by 1851, William is dead, a new railroad line is born. . . and the Howarths wander about the wonders at the Crystal Palace. Again Stubbs lingers over some period watersheds--as in a lament for the vanishing stagecoach: ""drumming hooves. . . rumbling wheels, the wild halloo of the horn, and the road to adventure opening out."" Again, too, there's a pleasant new generation of Howarths of both low and high degree--to carry on in this comfortable, modestly successful series.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's