A WOMAN ALONE by Malcolm Macdonald


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 Third Macdonald celebration of beset but iron-fibered Cornish women of early 19th-century England. Johanna (A Notorious Woman, 1989), who rides like Boadicea while driving her brewery wagon, is here an offstage inspiration. Jane, however (An Innocent Woman, 1991), is much in evidence as friend and sometime benefactress to Roseanne, a popular and admired woman who nonetheless hears the siren call of the solitary life. Roseanne Kitto, daughter of successful stonemason Frank, has been ``promised'' to handsome cattle-dealer Mark Bodilly, but now the squire's son, Stephen Morvah, falls for her mightily. (The two men will even wrestle for her favor.) Meanwhile, Roseanne, the sought after, is doing her own seeking. Beyond love and pity, why has she become so fiercely attached to Jake, a tot who probably witnessed his mother's murder? Is foster motherhood a way to avoid choosing a mate? Stephen pines while Mark provides a warm body for a common-sensical widow who has cannily assessed her sexual needs. And while Stephen's clever sister Annette, and Jane--who is having hanging gardens built by Frank, and whose influence helps Roseanne to speak properly (although neither cares that much)--are much involved with Roseanne's options. In contrast to the ambling developments, there's a breathless, bang-up close, with a chase and murder on-the-trail. Slow, slow, with dialogue often thick with the floating nominative pronouns of period Cornwallese--they sentences cannot seem to avoid they. But, still, there's likable people, and they scenery is proper 'ansum.

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-06000-9
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1991


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