Shortly after World War II, Coral Glynn, a nurse, shows up at Hart House to take care of an elderly woman dying of cancer, and thus begins a series of unfortunate events.
Although Coral is taciturn and hard to read, these qualities don’t stop Major Hart, son of the dying woman, from being intrigued by her—though perhaps “intrigued” is too strong a word. When the inevitable happens and his mother dies, Major Hart has an aversion to spending the rest of his life alone. He had been badly wounded in the war and has few social contacts beyond his childhood friend Robin, who’s in love with the major, and Robin’s wife, Dolly, who obviously have a marriage of convenience. Hart somewhat ambivalently returns some of Robin’s affection, but he yearns for more and feels that Coral can fill the void in his life, so he and Coral get engaged while Mrs. Hart’s body is still warm, and they marry about two weeks later. On their wedding night their marriage is immediately thwarted by Inspector Hoke, who’s investigating a mysterious murder that occurred in the woods near Hart House, a venue Coral was known to have visited in her spring walks. Uncertain whether Coral has any culpability in the crime, Hart urges her to disappear to London, where she lives for two years. While there she yields to the amorous blandishments of her landlady’s son but is eventually found out by Hart. Their on-again/off-again relationship teeters on the brink until Coral finally makes up her mind.
A slowly unfolding novel that paradoxically contains both engaging characters and wooden dialogue.