WHO WAS SYLVIA? by Judy Gardiner


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A mildly diverting pursuit-cum-romance--with a WW II WAAF weaving through wartime London, first love, and the search for a missing sister (who, like The Third Man's Harry Lime, is stubbornly elusive). Kit Coryn has always adored elder sister Sylvia, whose gaiety and Alice-Faye glamour provided the only twitch of happiness in a drab home with drabber parents. But in 1938, at 18, Sylvia just disappears--run away or sent away?) to London, it seems. And when Kit later becomes a WAAF stationed in WW II London, she's more than ever determined to find the sister she loved. Kit badgers the police (no go); she visits eccentric Aunt Mitty, learning that Sylvia promised to drop in on Auntie with her new husband but never showed; she traces Sylvia to a schoolteaching job, to a forlorn and unpleasant ex-roommate, and to a now-defunct establishment called the Bever Club. (Sylvia did ""washing up. . . and other things""--and lived with ""the richest old man in Soho."") Meanwhile, of course, Kit is being thrillingly wooed--by squadron leader David Magus--and experiences the joys and woes of military service. But the quest for Sylvia begins to interfere with Kit's love life--especially when she barely escapes death in a fire. And it's not until five years after the war that Kit will at last make her ""holy pilgrimage"" to Sylvia: in another city, after an eerie day or two with a moaning cello and mixed identities, there's the dreadful revelation about what Sylvia did and what Sylvia is. Slabbed with Spam-thick slang from WW II Britain and chattily, casually told: a decent little plot that never churns up much suspense.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1982
Publisher: St. Martin's