For those who may not have understood the plot trick at the end of Tregaran (1989), Lide's last saltily atmospheric romance-cum-family-skeleton-rattler, the author returns to the Cornish village where her last book was set to really sort things out. And in this visit Tregaran fans learn what went on in a prior generation that made it all right for the young lovers in volume one to wed. Lide sets her familiar, haunted, "Last night I dreamed I went to Manderly again" tone right off in the voice of her narrator, Paul Cradock--a London barrister whose weak heart has forced him into early retirement in tiny Tregaran. Cradock gets pulled immediately into the centuries--old Tregaran-Tregarn feud, since he takes to spying on pretty young Alice Tregarn (of the disenfranchised branch of the family), who is being romanced by John, the younger son from the big house. Alice and John are dose to marrying--despite the objections of almost everyone--when John's big brother Nigel steps in, seducing Alice, and leaving her pregnant before heading off for a desk job in WW I. Alice's brother, Tom, who's also joined up, deserts to save his sister from disgrace--and to give the babe a name--by forcing Nigel to marry her. But after the child (who'll be Tregaran's Phil) is born, Cradock reunites John and Alice--who, happily, won't live to see the trouble all the confusion causes for the ensuing generation of Tregarans and Tregarans, chronicled in volume one. This is one saga that ought to be read backwards in time (as Lide's written it), since here we get the key to events in Tregaran. Meanwhile, Lide's prose is graceful and admirably condensed, which helps make up for the overwrought plot. One can only hope that she doesn't get stuck forever in a Cornish rut.