KERNOW AND DAUGHTER by Malcolm Macdonald

KERNOW AND DAUGHTER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In his A Woman Possessed (1993)--another Cornish-set tribute to women possessed of drive and impossible dreams--Macdonald celebrated the advent of the automobile at the turn of the century. Here, it's electricity and its wonders, in the same time period, that send a lively girl through giant steps. Jessica Kernow is depressed beyond measure by the prospect of ladylike living in the household of her powerful father, Barney, owner of the local gasworks. Also on hand are three brothers and former governess Miss Cressida Pym, now Barney's bedmate, although, properly, ""they never touch in public."" Eldest son Harry, who longs to paint, is being groomed for the business, but it's Jessica who's been doing the accounts--and the founding of a power station to supply the village with electric light is a ""gleam"" in her eye. For her, love and marriage are the worst enemies. When she meets Cornwallis Trelawney, a landed, eligible bachelor from Yorkshire, then, he suggests a bogus engagement to keep the girls (and gossips) away from him--and to fool Jessica's fierce old father into thinking that his daughter's headed for marriage, not the family business. But, alas, the two fall in love. This unexpected development will amble toward a solution while Jessica's brothers sort out their own romantic entanglements, Miss Cressida loses some inhibition, and Jessica herself achieves amazing success with the power station. Again, there's that veritable fountain of talk among generally pleasant people, but Science and Industry bubble up here and there in the midst of romancing (""He inserted the key in the head of a grub screw that held a splined sleeve firmly in place on the static side of the drive""). With such detail Macdonald tries to involve the reader in his latest extra-romance enthusiasm. A tall order, but his many fans are indulgent. Buried in yards of talk, sparks of fun, and family feeling--and a plug for female get-up-and-go.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 1996
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: St. Martin's