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Pleasant family/historical romance--enhanced by unobtrusive research on Civil War N.Y. and Washington, not so enhanced by one of those increasingly familiar women's-lib messages blooming within. Young Miranda Chase, daughter of kind, widowed small-hotel-owner Will and sister to four grown brothers, is a lively sort who takes a most unfeminine interest in the work of the hotel, also in current causes like abolition and women's suffrage. Miranda has no particular interest in marriage, but she is strangely stimulated by the one man who seems to take her seriously--maddeningly forward Cort Adams, roving newsman for the New York Times. And though Cort weds Southerner Susanne, he and Miranda fall irrevocably in love and have an affair. Guilt about the affair (pregnancy and abortion) then lead Miranda into marriage with stuffy cousin Richard Schuyler--who adores his ""pretty bright child"" but forbids her all ""masculine"" pursuits like work, any thoughts beyond home, husband, and adornment. Fortunately, Richard is away a good deal, leaving Miranda free to help at the hotel and work at an orphanage for ""colored children."" And during the war years, she nurses one fatally wounded brother and an old beau, faces danger in the Draft Riot (a miscarriage), and finally has a baby son. By now, of course, life with Richard is becoming impossible, but Miranda confines her protest to endless sighs while Cort has troubles too: his young son dies; Susanne has a baby by another; he is captured in the South and escapes. At the close, Susanne and Richard conveniently die, leaving Miranda and Cort to a partnership in life and the hotel business. Throughout, there is much family visiting and pairing, conversation and cityscapes involving events before and during the war--all at a leisurely, comfortable pace. Agreeable.

Pub Date: Sept. 4th, 1980
Publisher: New American Library