In explaining the circumstances of her daughter's conception, birth, and adoption, British actress Collins (the Upstairs, Downstairs series; star of Shirley Valentine) provides a warm, appealing account of her own English childhood--and of her experiences with acting companies in Ireland, and at the convent she took refuge in while hiding her pregnancy from her family. Collins comes across as so likable that it's a relief that just about everyone she met along her sometimes rocky way seems equally sympathetic. During the summer of 1963, she traveled to Ireland (her grandparents' birthplace) for her first real acting job and her first real romance. Her evocative account here makes vivid the daily realities of a provincial theater troupe; the social world of Killarney; and her own hopeful blossoming as actress and as woman. Back in London, when Collins realized she was pregnant, her lover offered marriage; she declined what seemed like his self-sacrifice. Unable to bring herself to tell her supportive but very uptight Catholic parents, she hid while pretending to be on tour, then entered the safe haven of a convent home for unwed mothers. Six weeks after Louise's birth, Collins gave her up for adoption, having exhausted hopes of finding a way to raise the child by herself. In this deeply personal--never political--account, abortion is never mentioned: Collins refers to Louise as ""illegitimate."" And while the italicized flashbacks to the author's happy childhood sometimes seem awkward, Anglophiles will enjoy the details. In 1986, mother and daughter met again, along with Louise's openhearted, loving adoptive family. A nice ending, then, for an upbeat, reassuring tale.