Macdonald continues his lightly linked Cornwall series (A Woman Possessed, 1993, etc.) with a tale of voluble and feisty young women who give off sparks and set off conflagrations in a tight little village community of antagonistic genders and generations. The prime mover here is Lorna Sancreed, who arrives unannounced in 1920 at the handsome home of recently widowed Jessica Lanyon, mother of three. Inexplicably the two become essential to one another. Is it because each lost a man after the Great War? Or because Lorna loves to cook and Jessica hates it? Jessica is conservative, discreet; she mourns her loveless marriage more than her husband's death. Unmarried, pregnant Lorna, estranged from her family, flamboyant and irreverent, follows a compulsion to change the lives around her. The housemates flare up, make up, and find themselves in a thicket of romantic possibilities/impossibilities. Jessica struggles to hide her passion for neighbor Dr. David Carne, miserably married to maddening Estelle, who loathes him and feigns illness until Lorna routs her out. Lorna, crusader for honesty and the Airing of Feelings, has a rousing seaside idyll with David; a chaste kiss, with a proposition for noble, prim tavern owner Ben; and a dalliance with young Bill, an aeronautics enthusiast. ``How do men and women manage to live together at all?'' asks one character. Cluttering the flurry of chums and chumps once Lorna's baby is born is a brace of growling Grandpas (one was featured in A Woman Alone, 1991). Macdonald also provides glimpses of early 20th century machines, from flying to flivver, and some great scenery. At the close, there's a not particularly lamented flight and happy, even providential pairings. As in the author's other Cornwall-set tangles of passion and predation between the sexes, the talk floods like a Cornish tide. Some may find the sheer volume of chatter enervating, but on the whole, the gossiping village neighbors will prove to be genial company for the author's following.