Double adultery, two rapes, three murders, and five births--in another blowsy Victorian romance from the calamity-happy author of The House of Cray, etc., etc. Orphaned Sara Ryder, an amateur ceramicist, would rather toss pots than teach in her aunt's school; but then Sara's forced to apprentice herself to a harridan of a milliner--until she's ""rescued"" via the peculiar will of the late Squire of Ae in Sussex. The squire, it seems, was most advanced in his politics, and an admirer of the working classes. Thus, he proclaimed in his will that his heir, sour rotter Francis Atherstone, will not receive a penny unless he marries a woman of toil and sires a son. Genteel Sara seems to fill the bill. (Francis' long-time lover, Lady Helena Consett, a nasty piece married to nice Nigel, does the scouting.) So into the grand estate of Ae, shared by the Consetts and Francis, goes Sara--to be the dutiful wife of cold, bullying Francis. Sara loses her first baby in a fall during a skating party. (Could she have been helped along by Helena?) Meanwhile, Sara and Nigel fall in love, with Sara giving tender attention to the Consetts' retarded child. Still, she makes the best of her marriage. . . until Francis, having raped poor timid governess Miss Bartlett, marries her off to a neanderthal-like gypsy and does some baby-switching when Sara gives birth to daughter Meribah. Off, then, to Nigel flees Sara--with three murders, babies galore, and a hectic epilogue (up through World War I) to follow. Busy, busy, BUSY.