There's a pine-scented freshness to this story of a young Parisian widow of a hundred years ago who fled the stifling circumspection of her aunts' house to seek adventure- and romance-in the Caucasus. Her chance to escape involved ""going into trade"" with an old teacher, but Zoe did not care. She fell in love with Sasha, an officer and a noble, but a mad wife and a snobbish family intervened, though they could not override their love. Zoe became a governess for Sasha's cousin, Princess Tchavchavadze (an ancestor of the author) and while fulfilling this position, the Princess, Zoe, and the women and children of her household were kidnapped by a Moslem leader from the mountains. By then the Crimean War raged, and their ransom and release were complicated. Zoe found her adventure tinged by many brutal experiences which matured her, while Sasha discovered that his love for her was strong enough to keep him from infidelities. Finally, the death of Sasha's wife and of the Czar who opposed his marriage to a Frenchwoman clear the way and Zoe is released through the intervention of a Moslem Prince.... A story with a far away fascination which is partially authentic and wholly absorbing.