THE ADULTERESS by Philippa Carr
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Carrt has added yet another exotically monikered, garrulous female to her multi-novel English family epic (Song of the Siren, etc.); we're currently up to the Georgian era, with the trials of Zipporah Ransome--whom you may recall from last year's Will You Love Me in September. Now happily, though childlessly, married to gentle Jean-Louis, narrator Zipporah lives on an estate near mother Clarissa, cousin Sabrina, and Sabrina's horrid son Dickon--whom both ladies adore. And Dickon, who (at age ten) happily sets fire to a farmer's barn and thus causes the crippling of poor Jean-Louis, is one of Zipporah's rivals for the heirdom to the estate of Lord Carl Eversleigh, a distant relation. Another rival: Carl's uppity, dangerous mistress/housekeeper Jessie, whom Zipporah outwits while on a visit to the Eversleigh estate. But, also while at Eversleigh, Zipporah adulterizes with that fascinating Frenchman, Gerald d'Aubigne, whose lovemaking calls forth a passion never aroused by lean-Louis. And though the lovers will part, Zipporah is of course pregnant, guilty, and miserable--especially when allowing dear J-L to believe that daughter Lottie is his. Meanwhile: Jessie's deadly intrigues continue; Dickon uncharacteristically rescues Zipporah from a murderer (when not impregnating every female in sight); Jean-Louis sickens, yearns to commit suicide; Zipporah falls for good Dr. Charles Forster (who dies in a fire). And finally Dickon zeroes in on Eversleigh via blackmail and a plan to marry Lottie, but Zipporah gives him Eversleigh--so that she and Lottie can join Gerald and enjoy a Dickon-free life. Gasps, pants, whispers, and one-shot pregnancies galore: more of the juicy usual for Carr's steady readership.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1982
Publisher: Putnam