Two young women are mistaken for each other in this romantic farce set in Europe in the run-up to World War II.
Hannah Morgernstern and Anna Morgan couldn’t be more different. One is the small, dark-haired half-Jewish daughter of bohemian cabaret owners in Germany; the other is the statuesque, blonde British beauty whose father belongs to the National Fascist Front. As each arrives at the legendary Starkers estate for, respectively, refuge and subterfuge, they are absurdly mischaracterized. Assumed to be the new kitchen maid and cowed by her fellow servants, Hannah never shares the story of her family’s distress and legitimate connections to Lord and Lady Liripip. Anna, originally expected to spy and worse for NAFF as that kitchen maid, takes advantage of the mistake, as both girls fall for Teddy, the only heir to the Liripip fortune. Evoking the spirits of P.G. Wodehouse, Preston Sturges and Shakespeare himself, Sullivan delights in leading readers through a jaunty muddle of romantic misfortunes. Yet the later allusions to Nazis and Hitler strain to be integrated emotionally, and the quirky, entertaining storyline ultimately runs out of steam, failing to match the balance of tone struck by Michelle Cooper in her Montmaray Journals.
This lighthearted comedy set against a backdrop of gathering doom may be gutsy; it’s definitely odd. (Historical fiction. 12-16)