A NIGHT IN COLD HARBOR by Margaret Kennedy


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This is out of the groove for Margaret Kennedy, in a story that has at its heart the issue of child labor, back in early 19th century England. While not historical in its incidents or characters, it is a recapturing of a period and a way of life, a sort of modern version of John Halifax, Gentleman. Romilly Brandon is heir to a squiredom, but thinks nothing of the responsibilities this entails, and spends his life more or less as a drifter and waster. A young romance has been cut off -- and this was his lame excuse. And when he does come home, he takes a rather high handed attitude to his family (who had accepted his absence- and taken over in their own way) -- and towards the people of his age. It takes a tragic and belated realization of what had happened to the girl he had loved -- and whose rejection he had too readily accepted- and to the discovery that he had thoughtlessly fathered a son whom only Jenny rescued from sentence to child labor in the local potteries- to wake him up. And then it is too late. Jenny dies. The boy disappears. And only in the by- plot of Romilly's young sister, Ellen, and his friend Latymer is there any relief or a hope of happiness. It is- oddly enough- a credible story, handled with Miss Kennedy's sure craftsmanship. But it lacks the warmth and appeal of her earlier books.

Publisher: Macmillan