This season's Blockbuster First Novel by an Unknown: an enormous 18th-century historical sent to an agent picked at random, sold for unheard of money, and now being published with great hoopla. The novel opens in 1715, with the scheming Diana Alderley in great trouble--her husband Kit has sided with the Scottish Pretender against the new Hanover King, George, and is now in exile as a traitor: the family fortunes are at a new low. Diana decides the only course open to her is to marry her 15-year-old daughter, beautiful and spirited Barbara, to Roger Montgeoffrey, the Earl Devane. As a dowery, she will give him the remaining Alderley land, Bentwoodes, which he has long coveted. The twist here is that Barbara has long been in love with the 42-year. old Roger, and is happy indeed to be married to him. After the wedding, they go to France, to the corrupt court of the boy king, Louis XV, where the innocent Barbara is an enormous hit with the jaded likes of the regent, the Duc d'Orleans, Richelieu, and Prince Henry de St. Michaels--and where the arrogant and handsome Philippe, Prince de Soissons, appears on the scene--and where poor Barbara learns that he and Roger were lovers years before, and are now resuming their affair. The scandal drives the Montgeoffreys back to England, where they establish separate residences, Roger with Philippe, Barbara with an impetuous young lover. It's only when both of them realize how much they love each other that they reunite--in time for Roger's fatal heart attack. At the close, Barbara sets her sights on the New World and heads for Virginia to make her fortune, all of 21 years old, and much sadder and wiser. Koen is a graceful, natural writer, and Through a Glass Darkly is a notable accomplishment: a suspenseful, romantic and vividly believable historical from a new writer who knows how to use (not abuse) her research materials.